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Ladies & Gentlemen, Obama has Left the Island

Major Flight Disruptions as U.S. President Barack Obama Departs ASEAN Summit in Bali

(11/20/2011) U.S. President Barack Obama left Bali on Air Force One at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 19, 2011, part of an even larger exodus of world leaders departing Bali following the ASEAN and East Asia Summit.

Earlier in the afternoon, at 1:45 p.m., U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left Bali on a U.S. government Boeing 757.

During a joint press conference on Friday with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the U.S. President reminisced about his earlier visit to Bali 18 years ago and the rapid development that has taken place on the island since. During that last visit, Obama spent an extended holiday on the island while he penned  his best-selling autobiography Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. That book was later published in July 1995 as Obama prepared to embark on a political career.

The Bali trip was also something of an Indonesian homecoming for Obama who spent several years as a young boy living in Jakarta with his American Mother and Indonesian step-father.

Numerous Delays

Security personnel sterilized the road leading from the Nusa Dua Complex (BTDC) to the Bali airport in the hours leading up to Obama’s departure. Hundreds of military personnel were also stationed in all areas of Bali’s airport, including the apron areas.

The State News Agency Antara reports that flight schedules were disrupted at Bali’s airport on Saturday afternoon, with many flights delayed by as much as three hours as all attention shifted to facilitating a safe departure for Air Force One.

Other, more serious delays, occured when inbound international flights were diverted to Surabaya or Jakarta. In the worst cases, some passengers scheduled to land in Bali on late Saturday afternoon only arrived in Bali the following morning, after an overnight wait in Jakarta

Bidding Obama farewell at Bali’s airport was the Indonesian Minister of Defense Purnomo Yusgiantoro and the Indonesian Ambassador to the U.S. Dino Patti Djalal.

Confusion and public anger with disrupted flights were exacerbated by a breakdown of the flight information system that tracks arrivals and departures for display on monitors around the airport. The system reportedly broke down four days prior to the start of the ASEAN Summit.