Travel Alert January 2020: Volcano Eruption Impacts Travel in the Philippines

If the Philippines is in your travel plans over the next few days, you may want to consider delaying your travel — or, at least, keep yourself updated as to the latest information pertaining to the weather — due to the recent eruption of the Taal Volcano.

Travel Alert January 2020: Volcano Eruption Impacts Travel in the Philippines

The operations of Manila International Airport have been partially restored earlier today, Monday, January 13, 2020 after it was closed due to the eruption of the Taal Volcano, which is located approximately 35 miles almost due south of the airport and resulted in the cancellation of greater than 500 flights.

Thousands of people had fled to seek shelter in safer areas of the country as steam, ash and pebbles were blasted up to nine miles into the sky.

According to this statement — which was posted earlier today, Monday, January 13, 2020 at the official Internet web site of the Department of Science and Technology of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology — pertaining to the activity of the Taal Volcano, whose danger level had been increased to Level 4 out of five levels:

After a brief waning of activity following lava fountaining at 2:49-4:28 AM today, Taal’s eruption resumed immediately with weak sporadic lava fountaining and hydrovolcanic activity at the Main Crater that generated steam-laden plumes approximately 2km tall. New lateral vents were observed to have opened up on the northern flank where short 500m lava fountains emanate.

Since the last update, heavy ashfall from the ongoing eruptions of Taal has reportedly fallen southwest of the volcano island in Cuenca, Lemery, and Taal, Batangas.

Fine ashfall can cause irritation and breathing problems especially among the elderly and children. Long-term exposure may be harmful to respiratory health. In addition, areas of ashfall have also experienced sulfurous smell which can also cause irritation. Affected populations are advised to avoid inhalation of ash and use N95-grade facemasks or wet cloth or towel when going outdoors. Motorists are advised to drive with extreme caution as ash can cause poor visibility and, when wet, can make roads slippery.

The Philippine Seismic Network has recorded a total of one hundred forty-four (144) volcanic earthquakes in the Taal region since 1:00 PM, January 12, 2020. Forty-four (44) of these earthquakes were felt with intensities ranging from Intensity I – V in Tagaytay City; Alitagtag, Lemery, Santo Tomas, and Talisay, Batangas. Such intense seismic activity probably signifies continuous magma intrusion beneath the Taal edifice, which may lead to further eruptive activity.

DOST-PHIVOLCS strongly reiterates that total evacuation of the Volcano Island and high-risk areas within the 14-kilometer radius from the Taal Main Crater must be enforced. Population in areas in the southwest are advised to guard against the effects of heavy and prolonged ashfall. Civil aviation authorities must advise aircraft to avoid airspace around Taal Volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from the eruption column pose hazards to aircraft. DOST-PHIVOLCS is continually monitoring the eruption and will update all stakeholders of further developments.

As one of the smallest volcanoes in the world, the Taal Volcano is located in the province of Batangas on the big island of Luzon in the Philippines; and is the second most active volcano in the country with 34 historical eruptions.

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If the Philippines is in your travel plans over the next few days, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to the volcanic eruption which may affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary. If you are driving in any of the affected areas, watch out for deteriorating weather conditions and traffic problems.

Here are six airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of this volcanic eruption:

  • American Airlines has issued a travel alert for Manila for Sunday, January 12, 2020 through Tuesday, January 14, 2020; and Friday, January 17, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Delta Air Lines has issued a travel alert for Manila for Sunday, January 12, 2020 through Tuesday, January 14, 2020; and Friday, January 17, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • United Airlines has issued a travel alert for Manila for Sunday, January 12, 2020 through Tuesday, January 14, 2020; and Friday, January 17, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has issued a travel alert for Manila for Sunday, January 12, 2020 through Tuesday, January 14, 2020; and Friday, January 17, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Cathay Pacific Airways has issued a travel alert for Manila for Sunday, January 12, 2020 through Tuesday, January 14, 2020; and Wednesday, February 12, 2020 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Philippine Airlines has issued a travel alert for Manila for Sunday, January 12, 2020 until further notice; and has listed specific flights which have been canceled. If you are an affected passenger with a confirmed booking, you have the option to rebook or refund your ticket within 30 days from your original flight date with rebooking and refunding service fees waived. The difference in fare charges will be waived provided that rebooking is in the same cabin class.

Summary

Additional airlines may issue travel waivers as a result of this volcanic activity.

Be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

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