AirNZ flight to Bali turns back, flights delayed over volcanic ash

An Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Bali has been forced to turn around half way into its journey, as Indonesia's Mt Raung continues to billow thick volcanic ash.

Erupting Mount Sinabung on Sumatra has blanketed parts of Tanah Karo in ash. Source: Associated Press

A map showing the path of Air New Zealand flight 245 on July 12. Source: 1 NEWS

NZ245 left Auckland early this morning and was due to land in Bali at 8.30am local time (12.30pm New Zealand Time), but was turned around above Alice Springs as a forecasted wind change could bring the ash cloud over Denpasar Airport. Volcanic ash can cause complete engine failure.

The flight arrived nack in Auckland about 1.30pm, and Air New Zealand said as a consequence of the ash cloud, Air New Zealand flight NZ246 from Bali to Auckland, scheduled to depart at 9.55am today had been delayed until Tuesday.

Meanwhile a New Zealand family of five may be stranded in Bali for a week after their Virgin Australia service leaving Denpasar Airport was cancelled.

Jetstar flights on Monday had also been cancelled due to unfavourable winds pushing the ash towards the airport.

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Angela and Louix Waru travelled to Bali with their three children on July 2 for a holiday and were due to fly back to New Zealand via Brisbane on July 9 with Virgin Australia, but were told the soonest they could fly was July 19.

"They did not offer us any accommodation assistance as the cancellation was not of their doing," Angela said.

A travel agent in New Zealand was able to find flights for the family on July 16, but the family are now having to take drastic measures to make ends meet as expenses for delay mount up.

"We've accepted we just have to max out our credit cards (and seek limit increases) and ride it out in the hope our July 16 flight goes ahead - who knows what the volcano is up to!

"We have travel insurance but need to pay up front now and there is no guarantee our claim will be accepted when we return to Auckland."

"It's costing us at least an extra couple of thousand just to tie us over ... we've got nearly an extra 10 days accomodation we have to fork out for."

Other travellers have had to fork out for expensive business or first-class tickets.

"We've heard stories of others paying $17,000 to fly business class to Singapore and on to Australia.

"Good for those that can afford."

Other carriers were warning passengers to check their websites to see the latest information on flights.

Volcanic ash is abrasive and can quickly wear propellers and engine parts; it can scratch cockpit windows, impairing visibility; it contaminates fuel and water systems and in some cases it can cause total engine failure.

NZ245 is expected to land in Auckland at 1.30pm.