Pope Francis will fly in and out of Tacloban airport on Jan 17th (photo by the New York Post)

Tacloban News – PAL advises passengers to rebook Tacloban flights on Jan 17th

TACLOBAN NEWS – The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has issued an order that suspends all airline operations in Tacloban on January 17th due to security measures surrounding Pope Francis’ visit to the region.

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has advised passengers scheduled to fly in or out of Tacloban on that day, to rebook their tickets.

Passengers with tickets on the 17th January should call PAL Reservations on 02-855-8888 for rebooking or refund. Passengers affected by the suspension will be reallocated seats on the next available flights.

The CAAP has previously ordered no-fly zones around all the venues attended by Pope Francis during his visit to the Philippines, 15th – 19th January. The no-fly zone covers a two-nautical mile radius and 18,000-feet vertical distance “from the point of engagement”, CAAP deputy director general for operations, Rodante Joya said.

Violators of the no-fly zone face a penalty of P300,000 to P500,000.

The no-fly zone follows a similar measures that was implemented during the visit of US President Barack Obama, however the Papal visit is expected to be accompanied by much larger crowds, presenting it’s own security issues.

The no-fly zone will cover cargo, commercial, and general aviation flights, radio-controlled aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and flight training. Though exemptions may be granted to news organizations covering the Papal visit.

Meanwhile, the CAAP is speeding up the repairs to the Tacloban airport 2,140 meter runway, which, following severe damage by Typhoon Yolanda, can currently only accommodate turbo-propeller aircraft.

It is expected that the Pope will fly in a PAL Airbus A320 from Manila to Tacloban and back.

“We still have plenty of time to finish the work ahead of Pope Francis’ visit,” said Joya on Friday.