Jetstar Bali flight returns after landing approval denied

A Jetstar Dreamliner approaches Bali to land.
Sabung.hamster, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – A Jetstar flight carrying travellers bound for Bali from Melbourne has been turned around and forced to return to Melbourne.

Jetstar Flight JQ35, operated by a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner registered VH-VKE, had departed Melbourne (MEL) bound for Denpasar, Bali (DPS) at 11.00pm local time.

The aircraft was approximately four hours into its flight, when the aircraft made an unscheduled turnaround and returned to its Melbourne departure point.

The flight had transited the Australian mainland and made the return after passing across the north-west enroute to the popular Indonesian tourist destination.


Australian low-cost carrier Jetstar has issued an apology to passengers for the embarrassing incident and will launch an investigation into what it cites as a “miscommunication” which saw the flight denied landing in Bali.

The cause of the return

The reason for the flight’s return came as a result of the aircraft type being used. The original landing approvals had been for the smaller Airbus A321 aircraft. The carrier had substituted the widebody Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner to conduct the flight, in order to accommodate more passenger.

It appears that the airline did not advise the aircraft substitution to Indonesian authorities, resulting in a denial of approval to land at Denpasar.

A spokesman for Jetstar said: “We know this has been an extremely frustrating experience for customers and sincerely apologise for what happened.”

“While customers wait for their new flight, we’re providing them with hotel rooms and meal vouchers, and we’ll cover additional airport transport costs.”

“We’ve begun a review to understand how the miscommunication happened so we can prevent it from occurring again.”

Previous problems in Bali

The most recent incident involving the unscheduled turnback comes after an earlier problem for Jetstar involving its Dreamliner aircraft this year.

In September, nearly half of Jetstar’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet was grounded, which left up to 4,000 passengers stranded in Bali.

At the time, Jetstar Chief Pilot Jeremy Schmidt explained that the substantial fleet grounding was caused by a range of technical issues. He stated at the time:

“Unfortunately, our Boeing 787 fleet has been impacted by a number of issues, including a lightning strike, a bird strike, damage from an item on the runway, and delays sourcing a specific spare part for one of our aircraft due to global supply chain challenges. The part has to be road freighted across the US.”


According to a report from a passenger onboard the recently returned Jetstar Flight JQ35, passengers were told that the runway which was able to accept the landing of the larger Dreamliner was closed at the time of their planned arrival.

Jetstar will investigate the incident to better understand the cause of the miscommunication.

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