Mount Agung: Jetstar and Indonesia AirAsia to resume flights

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The regional volcanic ash advisory centre in Darwin said winds could carry the ash southwest toward Bali's global airport and Java, Indonesia's most densely populated island.

Virgin Australia has advised passengers the airport is due to reopen at 7pm local time (9pm AEST) on Friday.

The eruption, which began on Thursday, fired a towering column of ash 2,500 metres (8,200ft) into the sky, and reddish flames lit up the volcano's crater overnight.

The volcanic activity began on Thursday, prompting several airlines to delay or cancel their flights to Bali prior to the Friday airport closure.

Operations at Bali's airport were disrupted for more than a week in early December, stranding thousands of visitors before winds changed to blow the smoke away and the volcano calmed down.

The airport will stay shut on Friday until 7 pm local time (1100 GMT), and 48 flights had been cancelled affecting 8,334 passengers, including 38 global flights and 10 domestic flights, the disaster mitigation agency said in a statement.

Mt. Agung, about 70 kilometres northeast of Bali's tourist hotspot of Kuta, last had a major eruption in the year 1963, killing about 1,100 people.

Tens of thousands of locals fled to evacuation centres after last year's eruption.

Air New Zealand has cancelled Bali flights today due to an erupting volcano at Mount Agung.

Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of Bali's disaster mitigation agency said seismic activity was still rife deep under the volcano.

AirAsia's Flight QZ509, scheduled to leave Singapore at 9.05pm to Denpasar was also cancelled.

Volcanic ash is hard and abrasive, and can damage propellers and turbo compressor blades, as well as scratching cockpit windows.

In a statement, Australian airline Qantas acknowledged the inconvenience to passengers but said safety is its top priority.

The alert level was sitting on a three, with a 4km exclusion zone around the mountain and tremors being experienced at the site throughout the afternoon.