Local flights to Philippines cancelled as Taal volcano spews ash

By DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By AFP

MALAYSIA Airlines Bhd (MAB) and AirAsia Group Bhd cancelled a total of 10 flights to and from the Philippines yesterday in the wake of Mount Taal’s volcano eruption.

Located 40 miles (64km) south of Manila on Luzon island, one of the country’s most active volcanoes erupted on Sunday, spewing ash and steam about 15km high.

National flag carrier MAB released a travel advisory notice on its website to inform that flights to and from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Manila will be suspended following the extended closure of the airport due to the eruption of Taal volcano.

At press time, a total of 10 flights throughout yesterday were cancelled, including another one yesterday morning.

Meanwhile, AirAsia cancelled four flights yesterday, while some of its domestic and international flights in Manila resumed with gradual operations back at NAIA.

In total, 114 of AirAsia’s domestic and international flights in the Philippines were cancelled yesterday.

“Manila airport authorities have resumed departures from NAIA late this morning and arrivals to NAIA at noon. AirAsia has thoroughly assessed its aircraft and equipment prior to recommencing flights.

“However, some flights for today (Jan 13), remain cancelled,” the local budget carrier said in a notice yesterday.

In light of the natural event, AirAsia said it has made several options such as changing flights, credit account and full refund available to guests whose flights have been cancelled or delayed longer than three hours.

Manila International Airport Authority tweeted on Sunday evening that flight operations at NAIA were suspended due to the volcanic ash from the eruption of Taal volcano.

Meanwhile, Wisma Putra in a statement yesterday stated that there had been no reports of any Malaysians affected by the volcanic eruption.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is monitoring developments relating to the Taal volcano eruption. The ministry wishes to advise all Malaysians in the affected areas to exercise vigilance and take necessary precautions, and follow the instructions from the authorities,” the statement reads.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) raised the alert status of Taal volcano to Level 4 (hazardous eruption imminent).

Phivolcs has also requested a “total evacuation” of those within a 17km radius around the volcano.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the area, considered a volcanic danger zone, is home to more than 450,000 residents.

The volcano is also a popular tourist attraction, surrounded by a lake and can be spotted from Tagatay City.