MANILA -- The 12-hour shutdown of the Philippine capital's main airport due to Typhoon Tisoy (Kammuri) will proceed late Tuesday, authorities said, as they advised affected passengers to stay home and coordinate with their airlines.
The shutdown from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. will affect some 480 scheduled landings and departures, both domestic and international, said Ed Monreal, General Manager of the Manila International Airport Authority.
The airport will be shut for aircraft to avoid "destructive" winds of up to 65 knots or 120 kph, said Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Director General Jim Sydiongco. A possible extension will depend on the promptness of weather forecasts, he said.
"Minarapat namin na isara na lang, wag na makipag-patintero sa bagyo," Sydiongco said.
(We deemed it best to just close the airport and avoid second-guessing the typhoon.)
Tisoy, the 20th typhoon hit the country this year, lashed the Bicol Region and parts of Southern Luzon overnight with 275 kph gusts that damaged the Legazpi City Airport and caused a storm surge in at least one Quezon town.
"Mas maigi po sana na ang pasahero to stay at home, coordinate with airlines kung ano po ang panibagong schedule nila," Monreal said in a DZMM interview.
(It's better for our passengers to stay at home, coordinate with airlines about their new schedule.)
Once the airport reopens, regular flights will proceed until 1:30 a.m. Afterwards, runways will be used by airplanes returning from evacuation areas until 3:30 a.m., he said.
To avoid congestion at NAIA, airplanes will not be allowed to head to the airport without first securing a slot from air traffic authorities, said Monreal.
The bad weather forced Cebu Pacific to cancel 198 flights with 25,000 passengers since Monday, said its spokesperson Charo Logarta-Lagamon.
The country's largest carrier is coordinating with authorities to assist passengers who are already at the airport, she said.
Philippine Airlines' cancelled flights also affected "thousands" of passengers, said its spokesperson Cielo Villaluna.
Passengers can rebook or refund cancelled flights for free, said Villaluna and Lagamon.
EVACUATIONS IN BICOL
Tisoy remained strong, with maximum sustained winds of up to 155 kph, and maximum gusts of 235 kph as it tracked northwest on Tuesday.
"We're still assessing the damage but it looks like it's severe," said Luisito Mendoza, a disaster officer in Gubat, Sorsogon, where the storm made landfall.
"There is one place where water levels reached the roof... our own personnel got hit by shattered glass," he added, saying many trees and power poles were felled by wind.
About 340,000 people had been evacuated from their homes in the central Bicol Region, disaster officials said.
However, some residents opted to stay put even as the storm began to strike.
"The wind is howling. Roofs are being torn off and I saw one roof flying," said local resident Gladys Castillo Vidal.
"We decided to stay because our house is a 2-story made of concrete... Hopefully it can withstand the storm."
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing hundreds and putting people in disaster-prone areas in a state of constant poverty.
-- With a report from Agence France-Presse