MIAA: Flights at NAIA suspended

Due to the eruption of Taal volcano, departing and arriving flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport have been suspended starting about 6.30 pm on January 12 "until further notice" as a precautionary measure.  

At a joint press conference on late Sunday night, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) have indicated that as at 9 pm on January 12, over 170 flights were affected by this directive.  Some flights on their way to Manila have been diverted to other airports.

Capt. Jim Sydiongco, CAAP head, has indicated that a blanket suspension of operations is normal procedure when they do not have adequate information to act on.  It also allows the CAAP to identify the problem first and give more robust recommendations.

However, MIAA General Manager Ed Monreal for his part said that the suspension of operations had to be done as ash coming from the volcano could damage aircraft equipment and that the NAIA runway and tarmac are filled with ash that need to be cleaned in order to be usable again.  Manila Area Control Centre's Ariel Carabeo added that radar equipment is not designed to detect ash clouds and that ash that enters the engines could stop a plane from flying.  

In the meantime, passengers are advised to contact their airline as soon as possible for advice and assistance on rebooking their flights.   Monreal also adds that passengers should not go to the airport until further information has been issued.

UPDATE: On January 13 2020, NAIA reopened the airport to "partial operations" but advised passengers to contact their carriers before proceeding there.  Monreal emphasised at the time that the reopening was partial and that processes had to be followed to gradually restore normal operations.  He also added that the flights scheduled to operate would be subject to available slots and clearance. 

Sources: CNN Philippines, MIAA Twitter Page

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