News

Manila Airport partially reopens after Taal volcano eruption leads to over 240 cancelled flights

13 Jan 2020 by Jackie Chen
Philippine Airlines A350-900

Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) has partially resumed operations after flights were suspended at the airport following a major volcanic eruption to the south of the airport.

Philippine authorities have urged a “total evacuation” of nearly half a million people near the capital Manila, after a volcano spewed ash up to nine miles (14 kilometers) into the air Sunday prompting warnings of a possible “explosive eruption,” CNN reports.

Airlines affected include Air Asia, Air China, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, Delta, Eva Air, Malaysia Airlines and Oman Air. (The airport has posted a list of affected flights on its Facebook page here.)

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) announced in a statement the “partial resumption” of operations beginning 10:00am for departures and 12:00pm for arrivals today.

They added that this would be “subject to terminal capacity of the 4 NAIA Terminals and airline consent” and “separation time between flights will be longer, in order to give MIAA and CAAP better capability to manage terminal and runway capacities”.

The airport authority also said priority would be given to departure flights, so that the airport’s ramps can be cleared of planes parked since the night before. Second priority will be given to regularly scheduled flights for today.

Yesterday, the airport authority announced the flight suspensions through its official Twitter account:

The Taal Volcano, located about 60 kilometres south of Manila on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, is the second-most active volcano in the country, according to CNN Philippines.

The volcano suddenly erupted on Sunday afternoon and has been spewing ash and smoke since then.

CNN Philippines reported that the volcano had a “magmatic eruption” early this morning. It added that lava had reached the surface of the volcano and volcanic quakes will persist around a magnitude of 4.

According to the latest volcano bulletin from Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), which was published at 8:00am, “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days”. The institute further advised “total evacuation of Taal Volcano Island and areas at risk”.

It also advised areas in the general north of Taal Volcano to guard against the effects of heavy and prolonged ashfall.

Some airlines have issued travel advisories for passengers. So far, no flight changes have been announced for flights on or after tomorrow January 14. Passengers are advised to check the latest flight status and contact the airline for more information.

Philippine Airlines

The Philippines’ national airline and its domestic subsidiary PAL Express have cancelled around 40 international flights and 38 domestic flights today.

The airline said affected passengers have the option to rebook or refund their tickets within 30 days from the original flight date with rebooking and refunding fees waived. The airline added that fare difference charges will also be waived provided that rebooking is on the same cabin class.

Cebu Pacific

As of today, Cebu Pacific and its low-cost subsidiary Cebgo have cancelled 29 flights.

According to the airline, passengers booked on the cancelled flights will receive a notification through the contact details they provided when they booked their flights. They can manage their booking on the airline’s website, which presents the following options: rebook flights within 30 days without penalties; refund tickets in full; or store the value of the ticket in a travel fund for future travel.

The airline added that guests on flights scheduled for January 13 who decide to change their travel plans may also consider the options mentioned above.

Air Asia

Air Asia has published a travel advisory with a list of flights that were cancelled. The airline is now offering three options to passengers whose flights have been cancelled or delayed longer than three hours.

These options include:

  • Move flight: One-time flight change to a new travel date on the same route within 30 calendar days from the original flight time without additional cost, though this is subject to seat availability;
  • Credit account: Retain the value of the flight fare in Air Asia’s Big Loyalty account for future travel with the airline, whose online credit can be redeemed for booking within 90 calendar days from the issuance date, and the actual travel dates can be after the credit expiry date as long as the airline’s flight schedule is out;
  • Full refund: Refund requests can be made with AVA (Air Asia Virtual Allstar, the airline’s digital chatbot) at airasia.com, while those made through travel agents including online travel agents must be done via travel agents from which the booking was made.

Cathay Pacific

The Hong Kong flag carrier has announced that rebooking and rerouting charges will be waived for all tickets issued worldwide on or before January 13 for travel with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon confirmed booking arriving to and departing from Manila between 13 January 2020 and 14 January 2020.

Thai Airways

The airline said that the ticket change fee will be waived for passengers holding Thai Airways’ round-trip tickets on the Bangkok-Manila route dated between January 12 and 27 (terms and conditions apply). Tickets can be reissued or rescheduled on or before 27 January 2020 by contacting the airline.

Located in the middle of a lake less than 10km inland of Balayan Bay on the island of Luzon, Taal volcano has some 30 active craters, according to Bloomberg, which cited Batangas province Vice Governor Mark Leviste.

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, the newswire adds. Battered by about 20 typhoons annually, the country also sits on the “Pacific Ring of Fire”, exposing it to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Volcanos have a history of disrupting flights. The most disruptive eruption in recent memory was the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland, which left millions of passengers stranded after large parts of European airspace were closed. More recently, in 2017 a volcanic eruption in Bali caused the city’s Denpasar International Airport to remain closed for some time.

miaa.gov.ph

Have you been impacted by these flight suspensions? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below. 

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