Sat, 25 Mar 2000

No flights on Bali's 'Nyepi' day of silence

DENPASAR (JP): Domestic and international airline companies grouped in the Bali Airlines Representative Committee (BARC) agreed on Friday to suspend flights to and from Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport in observance of Nyepi, the Hindu day of silence, on April 4.

BARC chairman Mohammad Nazar told reporters that all flights, including transit flights and refueling stops, would be directed to Surabaya and Jakarta.

Nazar added that emergency landings would also be directed to other airports not on the island.

Nazar said, however, that the decision was mainly for regular flights to and from Ngurah Rai Airport.

The decision was a follow-up to a decree from the Ministry of Communications in September, which allowed the local government to close the airport during the Hindu day of silence.

The decree was issued following mounting calls from local groups to suspend all flights during Nyepi as the hustle and bustle of the airport is considered a distraction.

Nyepi commemorates the 1920 Saka new year and is a day of purification in which Hindus are urged to obey four dictums: refrain from work, travel, overly frivolous activities and lighting fires.

The ceremony is a form of spiritual purification to harmonize with the universe.

The usually bustling streets of Denpasar have always been deserted during the day of silence as residents stay at home and avoid their usual activities.

During last year's day of silence, new arrivals at Ngurah Rai Airport were either taken directly to hotels by travel agents or asked to stay at the airport.

Ngurah Rai is one of the busiest airports in the country with some 125 flights and more than 11,000 passengers arriving and departing every day. (zen)