Tacloban Airport closed on January 17 for papal visit

Aviation Updates Philippines - In preparation for the upcoming Papal Visit in the Philippines, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines is closing the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban on January 17, 2014 for all commercial flights. Philippine Airlines also cancelled flights to Tacloban on the said date.

(PHOTO) Pope Francis

In a statement, Philippine Airlines said that it would be cancelling all flights to Tacloban on January 17, 2014 for the Papal Visit. Passengers with tickets to Tacloban on January 17 are advised to call Philippine Airlines Reservations (02-855-8888) for rebooking or refund. Affected passengers will be accommodated on the next available flights.

Philippine Airlines will be Pope Francis' official carrier to Tacloban where he will meet the victims of the Super typhoon Yolanda that claimed thousands of lives last year. The airline will also fly the Roman Pontiff directly to Rome, non-stop, at the end of his four-day visit to the Philippines, which will begin in the afternoon of January 15. During the visit of Saint John Paul II in 1981 and 1995, Philippine Airlines also served as the official carrier of the pope.

For security reasons, CAAP also issued a no-fly zone over the Luneta Grandstand up to the Baclaran area, according to retired Gen. Rodate Joya, Deputy Director General for Operations of CAAP. “This is to ensure that the Pope is safe from any threat,” Joya said.

In CAAP’s recommendation to the Papal Visit 2015-National Organizing Committee (PV-NOC) headed by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr., a no-fly zone of 2 nautical miles and height of 18,000 feet “from the point of engagement” should be implemented during the papal visit, according to a report.

Violators of the no-fly zone will receive a Php300,000 to Php500,000 penalty. However, media networks are allowed once permission is granted from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

For the upcoming visit, authorities are now rushing to finish Tacloban Airport's Runway Rehabilitation due to the fact that the Pope will ride an Airbus A320-200 of the flag carrier. Currently, Tacloban's runway can only accommodate turbo-prop aircraft such as the Q400 and the ATR. “We still have plenty of time to finish the work ahead of Pope Francis’ visit,” Joya said.