The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Friday said no-fly zones will be designated in Tacloban City in Leyte and nearby provinces during Pope Francis’ visit there in January next year.
The CAAP said it will issue a Notice to Airmen once it gets approval from the National Organizing Committee and the Security Committee of Pope Francis.
According to Rodante Joya, CAAP chief for operations, they have submitted their recommendation to the committee for closure of Tacloban Airport in Leyte and the neighboring provinces affected by Typhoon Yolanda.
If the proposal is approved, Tacloban will be closed on January 17 five hours before the expected arrival of Francis.
Joya said the aviation authority will not allow any aircraft to land during the pope’s visit to the city.
He added that commercial airlines will be informed about the no-fly zone in Tacloban so that all Manila-Tacloban-Manila routes will be suspended on January 17.
The CAAP said Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive on January 15 aboard Alitalia and the aircraft will be towed to Villamor Air Base in Pasay City (Metro Manila) for a welcome ceremony, and on January 17, he will board a Philippine Airlines plane for Tacloban.
“Definitely, there will be a diversion of international and domestic flights when Pope Francis arrives,” Joya said.
A month before the much-awaited papal visit to the Philippines, thousands of Filipino families are already expecting to personally meet Francis at the Mall of Asia Arena on January 16.
Msgr. Esteban Lo said the pope will come to the Philippines to listen to experiences of Filipino families.
He “will come to listen to our stories and to confirm our journey of faith hope and love and definitely the pope will pray with us and pray for us, and bless us,” Lo told a news conference also on Friday at the Knights of Columbus in Manila.
From the thousands of Filipino families expected to attend the event, he said they have chosen three families in poverty, those with members working overseas and those caring for persons with disabilities (PWDs).
Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, chairman of the Papal Visit Committee on Information and Media Relations, said participants would include those “far” from the Church.
“The Church is trying its best to be open, to provide pastoral care for lapsed Catholics,” Vergara added.
Lo said 86 dioceses in the country each will be represented by 100 persons for the meeting with the pope.
Caritas Manila will invite an additional 300 persons to attend the event.
Lo said Pope Francis will be welcomed by a group of children from different areas who will be offering a medley of folk dances.
“There would be one grand choir and one supporting choir. To be sung is ‘All God’s Children’ [papal visit official theme song]as well as ‘Only Selfless Love,’ ‘Tell the World of His Love’ and ‘Welcome to the Family,’“ he added.
Lo said there will be no Mass during the meeting but that Francis’ guests will recite “Prayers of the Faithful” in Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Waray-Waray, Bicolano, Ilocano and Kapampangan.
Fr. Dennis Soriano, liturgist in-charge of the event, said the pope will also be welcomed by the “big” family of acclaimed actress Boots Anson-Roa.
Pope Francis will arrive in the Philippines on January 15 and stay here until the 19th.
The apostolic visit will take him to various places in Metro Manila and the Yolanda-devastated province of Leyte in the Visayas.
Also on Friday, the organizers of the 2015 Papal Visit launched the Official Papal Visit App during a media briefing at the Knights of Columbus.
Pasig Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergara, chairman of the Committee on Information and Media Relations for the Papal Visit, said the application aims to ensure that information will be easily grasped by the people especially those from the “digital generation.”
“We want as best as we can to make sure that the information day by day . . . is given to the public especially those who are [using]mobile [android phones],” Vergara added.
He said the new “papalvisitph” app is now available for download to both iOS and Android devices.
A unique feature of the app is the “Prayer Wall” where users can post their petitions and prayer intentions.