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Airlines change flight path to avoid North Korea rocket

Category: Headlines

Published: 10th Apr 2012 02:57:17

Three Asian airlines are making changes to flight paths to avoid a North Korean rocket launch due to take place between 12 and 16 April.

Philippine Airlines, Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) have announced changes to several routes.

North Korea has moved into its rocket into place on the launch pad and allowed journalists to view it.

Pyongyang says the rocket will put a satellite into orbit to mark the 100th birthday of late leader Kim Il-sung.

But opponents of the move fear it is a disguised test of long-range missile technology.

Philippine Airlines said in a statement that as the splashdown area of the rocket's second stage was anticipated to be ''just east of Luzon'', all flights passing through the area during the launch period would have their routes adjusted.

These include about a dozen flights between Manila and the United States, Canada, Japan and South Korea.

Philippine officials have also declared a no-fly zone and warned ships and fishing boats to avoid the area where rocket debris could fall, said an Associated Press report.

In a notice posted on its website, JAL said that the flight paths of four flights between Tokyo and Manila, Jakarta and Singapore would be adjusted, leading to an increase in flying time by five to 20 minutes.

Its domestic flights have not been affected and the airline has also made provisions for passengers booked on the affected flights to change their reservations.

ANA announced changes to the flight paths of five flights between Tokyo and Singapore, Manila and Jakarta, but said that flight schedules will not be affected.

The announcements came as North Korea entered the final stages of preparation for the launch despite international criticism and pressure to cancel it.

With this week's events the regime hopes to convince its people that their nation has been turned into a powerful, prosperous land. Most outsiders would not view North Korea that way.

Instead, watching the mass celebration, it seems what sustains North Korea is the personality cult built around the Kim dynasty, and a system of totalitarian control.

As the 100,000 people filed out of the square our group of journalists was hurried away by our minders. We were told we could not interview a single one of the crowd who had been present and were hustled away.

On Sunday, officials invited foreign journalists to the Sohae satellite station at Tongchang-ri, on the country's north-west coast. There they told reporters that preparations were on track and fuelling would begin soon.

All three stages of the rocket were visibly in position at the launch pad.

Pyongyang has previously said the launch, for "peaceful purposes", is to mark the centennial of the birth of founding leader Kim Il-sung on 15 April.

But the United States and North Korea's neighbours say it contravenes UN resolutions that were imposed after a similar launch in April 2009.

Japan and South Korea have warned they will shoot the rocket down if it threatens their territory.

North Korea's parliament is also meeting this week ahead of the formal celebrations to commemorate Kim Il-sung on 15 April.

On Monday, thousands of people gathered in Pyongyang to witness the unveiling of a new portrait of Kim Jong-il, who died in December 2011.

Pyongyang had agreed in February to a partial freeze in nuclear activities and a missile test moratorium in return for US food aid. But the deal was put on hold last month after the North announced its rocket launch plans.

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BBC News, 2012. Airlines change flight path to avoid North Korea rocket [Online] (Updated 10th Apr 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1421413/Airlines-change-flight-path-to-avoid-North-Korea-rocket [Accessed 24th Apr 2014]

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