The latest readings and analysis from Indonesia’s Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) suggest that Bali flights will be safe from Mount Agung’s volcanic ash for the remainder of 2017.
BMKG director, Dwikorita Karnawati, said winds will be blowing from west to east throughout Bali until January 2018—so ash from Mount Agung would blow the opposite direction from the island’s Ngurah Rai International Airport, which is located southeast of the volcano.
“If there is an eruption and ash comes out, the ash will move towards the east, not interfering with Ngurah Rai Airport,” Karnawati said at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs in Jakarta on Friday, as quoted by Tribun Bali.
The BMKG director also emphasized the need to communicate to tourists that Bali is safe outside of the exclusion zone, which was set as a 10 kilometer radius from the volcano’s crater, when Agung was bumped up the highest alert status, where it’s been since Nov. 27.
Mount Agung is located in Karangasem, far from the island’s most popular tourist destinations in the south. The volcano is about 75 kilometers from the tourist hub of Kuta.
“Please convey that all should keep their vacations to Bali, do not cancel them,” Maritime Affairs coordinating minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan also said on Friday.
Mount Agung started erupting in November after intensive monitoring for a few months beforehand. The Bali volcano’s eruptions became magmatic on Nov. 25, shooting ash up to 3,000 meters high in the sky, after several phreatic, steam-based eruptions the week before.
Ash blown into the direction of the airport caused Ngurah Rai International to fully shut down on Nov. 27, for nearly three days, until shifting winds allowed it to reopen on Nov. 29.
Fearful to get stranded in Bali in the event of another airport shutdown, tourists (especially the Chinese) have been canceling their trips to Bali. Officials estimate that 30 percent of flights will be canceled for end of the year trips to the island, which is usually a quite busy time for Bali.