Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 6 April 2020

UAE flights to Philippines cancelled after volcanic eruption

Emirates and Etihad grounded flights after authorities suspended operations at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport

Flights to the Philippines have been cancelled after a volcano erupted south of the capital Manila, resulting in a giant column of ash that forced closure of the country’s largest airport.

Around 8,000 residents were evacuated on Sunday as the Taal volcano began to rumble, prompting the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology to raise the alert to level 4, indicating a hazardous eruption was “imminent”.

Both Emirates and Etihad cancelled flights to the country after authorities suspended operations at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport as the volcano spewed a 1km-high ash plume in the sky.

An alternative airport north of Manila, Clark International Airport, remained open, but authorities warned it could close too if ash, which can cause engine failure, threatened flights.

Emirates cancelled five flights to Manila on Monday: EK332, EK333, EK338, EK334 and EK335.

“Emirates’ flights to and from Manila and Clark on 13th January have been cancelled following the eruption of the Taal volcano," said a spokeswoman for Emirates.

“Customers have the option to change their bookings up to seven days for tickets issued on or before 12 January 2020, and should contact their respective Emirates booking offices or Travel Agent for options.

“Emirates apologizes for any inconvenience caused. The safety of our passengers and crew is utmost importance and will not be compromised.”

Poor air quality in the northern Philippines. Graphic Ramon Peñas / The National
Poor air quality in the northern Philippines. Graphic Ramon Peñas / The National

The Manila-bound Etihad flight EY428 from Abu Dhabi was diverted to Hong Kong on Sunday due to the disruption. Guests will be assisted with their onward travel to Manila when the airport reopens, a spokeswoman for Etihad said.

Flight EY423 from Manila (MNL) to Abu Dhabi (AUH), which was due to depart on Sunday, was also delayed and guests booked on the flight were being provided with hotel accommodation.

In total, four flights between Abu Dhabi and Manila - EY421, EY424, EY423 and EY428 – were cancelled on Monday. In addition, EY421 from Manila to Abu Dhabi is cancelled on Tuesday.

“Flights to and from Manila will resume when the airport reopens and the latest status of these flights is available on etihad.com,” said a spokeswoman for Etihad.

“Etihad Airways Guest Services team is assisting affected guests.

“Etihad Airways is monitoring the situation and will provide continuous updates.”

Lava began flowing out of Taal volcano in the early hours of Monday, as authorities warned a hazardous eruption was expected within hours or days.

The volcano, which is located on a small island in the middle of a lake, is the Philippines’ second most active but one of the world’s smallest.

Updated: January 20, 2020 10:07 AM

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