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An earlier flight on AirAsia was called off before the airport was shuttered early Friday morning.

Ngurah Rai airport was due to be closed from 3am to at least 7pm Friday after a pilot report detected volcanic ash as high as 23,000 feet following Mount Agung's eruption on Thursday.

The major reason for cancelling the flights during a volcanic eruption is that it can damage engines, clog fuel and can even hamper visibility.

Mount Agung was spotted erupting on Thursday (June 28) and it was predicted that the ash would reach the airport on Friday.

The volcano's activity slowed down for a time before the eruption threat reared its head again last November, sparking travel chaos and pounding Bali's lucrative tourism industry and its wider economy. "We hoped that we could leave this morning, but the airport is closed", she said.

The airport's online flight schedule showed Singapore Airlines and KLM flights scheduled to arrive Friday evening.

It added that winds could carry the ash southwest toward Bali's worldwide airport and Java, Indonesia's most densely populated island.

State-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura said in a statement that as of 2.00 p.m. local time, 318 flights, including 115 global ones, had been cancelled, affecting around 27,000 passengers.

"Safety remains the main reason for the decision to close the airport", disaster management spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement.

Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jet Star were monitoring the situation in consultation with Australia's Bureau of Meteorology's Volcanic Ash Advisory Center.

Despite the eruption, Agung's status remained on alert status, the second highest danger warning.

Indonesia sits on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area known for seismic upheavals and volcanic eruptions.

Local government seismologists monitor more than 120 active volcanoes.