JAKARTA - AIRLINES cancelled 36 flights to and from Jakarta on Saturday, affecting international carriers from Europe to Asia, because of ash from the Mount Merapi volcano, an airport spokesman said.

In echoes of the disruption when thousands of flights were cancelled in April this year after ash spewed from a volcano in Iceland, several major international carriers were hit in their Indonesian operations.

'Thirty-six flights to and from Jakarta from 11 airlines have been cancelled today. I think it's for safety reasons due to the volcanic ash from Merapi,' said Sudaryanto, a spokesman for Soekarno-Hatta International Airport.

'Safety is good, but actually the ash hasn't reached Jakarta,' he added.

He listed the airlines that cancelled their flights as Singapore Airlines, AirAsia, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, JAL, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, China Airlines, Korean Air, Tiger Air and the local airline Mandala.

Mount Merapi, on Central Java, first started erupting on October 26, a day after a tsunami killed more than 400 people in a remote area off Sumatra island. The volcano, which is 430 kilometres from Jakarta, has so far killed 128 people, but this is the first time international flights have been affected.

All Jakarta flights cancelled