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Flights rerouted as North Korea prepares to launch rocket
At least seven airlines are adjusting flight paths through Southeast Asia over coming days to avoid possible debris from North Korea's satellite launch
More than 20 commercial airline flights will be rerouted to avoid North Korea's rocket launch expected sometime between April 12 and April 16.
The North Korean launch is meant to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the country's late founder, Kim Il-Sung, according to North Korean authorities.
The secretive state announced the launch in March, emphasizing that the rocket's debris will not affect neighboring countries, and saying that its accompanying satellite is intended for peaceful purposes, according to North Korea's state news agency.
North Korea claims that the Kwangmyongsong-3 (Shining Star) satellite, carried by the rocket Unha-3, will be used to collect data on forests and natural resources.
But the United States and other nations fear the launch may be a pretext for a ballistic missile test, which would potentially violate U.N. resolutions created after a similar launch in April 2009.
Flight patterns modified, flight times extended
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines issued a notice to airmen on April 3 warning of the potential for falling rocket debris. The Philippine government closed three northeastern air corridors and told ships and boats to avoid the area, according to the Voice of America.
Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Airlines (JAL), Korean Airlines, Garuda Indonesia and Delta Airlines will be rerouting flight paths in the region.
Japanese carriers ANA and JAL are diverting their flights' paths between Japan to Southeast Asian cities such as Manila and Singapore.
"JAL is changing flight paths of four international flights between April 12 and 16," said Sze-Hunn Yap, a JAL spokeswoman. "The flight time will be lengthened by five to 20 minutes due to the change in flight path."
Customers with applicable tickets may change travel dates. For more information visit JAL's website.
Similar routes are affected for ANA.