Jakarta. The annual meeting between the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Nusa Dua, Bali, next year remains on schedule for the time being despite Mount Agung's continuous eruptions over the past few days that have caused airspace closure over I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport.
"The preparation runs as usual while we monitor the development of Mount Agung," Peter Jacobs, the head of Task Force IMF-World Bank 2018 Annual Meeting, told the Jakarta Globe on Monday (27/11).
According to Peter, the national committee — which consists of representatives from the Indonesian government and the central bank tasked with organizing the annual meeting — already has a contingency plan but they will assess the development first.
"We all are still hoping everything will run well until October 2018. There's, of course, a 'Plan B' [...] but it will depend on the development," he said.
Another volcano, Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra, has been sporadically erupting since 2011 and shows no sign of stopping. If Mt. Agung's eruptions follow a similar pattern, air travel to Bali could be disrupted for months to come, potentially making it difficult for meeting attendees to arrive on the resort island.
However, the eruption has so far only affected air travel and activity in areas around Bali. The Centre for Volcanology and Disaster Hazard Mitigation said in a statement on Tuesday that the chance for a larger eruption is increasing but the unavailability of data to compare makes it harder to predict the upcoming eruption or how long will it last.
Mount Agung first erupted in 1843 and again in 1963. During the 1963 eruption, two major pyroclastic flows within a span of two months killed thousands of residents and was followed by minor eruptions that lasted for almost a year.
In the meantime, Peter said, the national committee will also continue its promotions about the positive impact of being the host of the IMF-World Bank annual meeting.
Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who is the chairman of the national committee, had mentioned Jakarta as a possible location alternative for the meeting. However, he said as quoted by Kontan.co.id that he will not jump too fast to any conclusion.
The IMF-World Bank 2018 Annual Meeting, which will be held on Oct. 12-14 next year, is expecting more than 15,000 delegates, businesspeople and journalists from 189 countries.
Even under normal conditions, Bali's already busy airport will see hundreds of planes flying in and out of the island every day during the event. AirNav Indonesia said official state airplanes and private jets will have to be parked in airports outside the island, including in Lombok (West Nusa Tenggera), Surabaya (East Java) or Makassar (South Sulawesi).
The closure of I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali by the country's air navigation agency will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday following Mount Agung's eruption that sent columns of ash meters high.