Commercial flights in Manila to encounter 'minimal disruption' during ASEAN Summit

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 24) — Authorities on Tuesday said the ASEAN leaders' meeting in November in Clark, Pampanga will have "minimal disruptions" for international and domestic flights into or from Manila's four airports.

Flights of visiting leaders and officials "will be concentrated at Clark International Airport in Pampanga...to avoid unnecessary flight disruptions" at the four Ninoy Aquino International Airports, said Ambassador Marciano Paynor, Jr., the ASEAN Summit national organizing committee director general for operations.

"All arrivals and departures in principle, will be at Clark Airport. This is on the directive of the President that no commercial traffic must be affected at the Manila International Airport," Paynor said in a statement. Clark Airport in Pampanga is over 80 kilometers north of Metro Manila.

Paynor said that government wanted to prevent a repeat of what happened during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in 2015, where some 450 flights were canceled in NAIA terminals to accommodate the flights of heads of state and important persons arriving at the forum.

Then-President Benigno Aquino III hosted in Manila in November 2015 more than 20 leaders of member economies of Pacific rim including former US President Barack Obama, China's President Xi Jinping, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin. The summit was deemed a success but caused misery for thousands of Metro Manila residents forced to endure horrid traffic and flight cancellations.

"We don't want to cause great hassle to our thousands of air travelers considering the enormity of this event," said Paynor, referring to the 2017 ASEAN Summit.

"At the same time, we have to maintain the security and safety of our ASEAN delegates being the host country," he added.

However, officials advised motorists to avoid passing through the North Luzon Expressway and EDSA from November 10 to 14, when the summit is ongoing.

Authorities said they will implement the "stop-and-go scheme" each time a convoy of an ASEAN delegate passes through major highways. This system was also enforced at the 30th ASEAN Summit in Manila in April.

"When the leaders are moving, 15 minutes before or a few minutes before they are expected, we close (the roads), so that the leaders' motorcades can pass unhampered. As soon as they pass, we open again for public use," Paynor said.

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Leaders of the ASEAN member states which also include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam are expected to attend the meetings, as well as heads of state from dialogue partners like the United States, Russia, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea.

The Palace has declared special non-working days in Metro Manila, Bulacan, and Pampanga on November 13 to 15 to give way to the summit, while the Metro Manila Council earlier suspended classes on all levels in Metro Manila on November 16 and 17.

READ: Palace declares November 13-15 special nonworking days in some areas