With only a few days before President Barack Obama's scheduled visit to Indonesia, several international airlines canceled flights into Jakarta on Saturday after a volcano hundreds of kilometers to the east unleashed its most powerful eruption in a century.
The cancellations also meant many passengers leaving Jakarta for overseas had to reschedule their trips.
International carriers began stopping flights to Jakarta at 4 p.m., Soekarno-Hatta International Airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II corporate secretary Hari Cahyono told kompas.com. Many flights were put on hold in Malaysia and Singapore, he said.
“The presence of volcanic ash in the air surrounding Jakarta could cause severe damage to our aircraft and engines, which could impair the safety of our operations, including for passengers and crew," Malaysia Airlines operations director Azharuddin Osman told AP.
Other carriers temporarily suspending flights included Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa and AirAsia. Domestic flights were unaffected.
The eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokul volcano in April forced the closure of most European airports for a week and led to the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights.