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Airlines reroute flights to avoid NK rocket launch

Date Posted: 2012-04-13

Nearly two dozen international airlines are rerouting flights over the Philippines starting today to keep their planes away from the impending North Korean rocket launch.

Some 20 airlines, including those of Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Korean Air, Garuda Indonesia and Delta are being rerouted from today through next Monday, the window when North Korea says it intends to launch a research satellite. North Korean authorities say weather will be a determining factor on exactly when it will send the 30-meter, 92-ton rocket into space.

A spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, Floramel Joy Songsong, says CAAP will be closing three northeastern air corridors for the period, increasing flight travel times through the area by an average 20 minutes. Both Japan Air Lines and ANA say they’re changing flight paths on their routes connecting Tokyo to Manila, Jakarta and Singapore. The Japanese airlines say no changes are anticipated in domestic flight routes or travel times.

JAL has four daily flights on each of the potential launch dates, and an airline official, Norio Higashimine, says each will be carrying additional fuel to cover unexpected route changes. ANA says it is making similar route changes for each of its five daily flights.

Floramel Joy Songsong, spokeswoman for the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, said the agency will temporarily close three northeastern air corridors, which will result in an additional 20 minutes of travel time for the airlines.

Philippine officials have warned ships and fishing boats to steer clear of northeastern territorial waters where rocket debris may fall. The first phase of the rocket is expected to fall into the Yellow Sea southwest of South Korea, and the second into the ocean about 140 kilometers east of the Philippines’ main northern island of Luzon.

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