Cancelled Flights And Traffic Chaos Loom As Obama, Other Heads Of State Travel To Manila For APEC Summit

Up to 21 world leaders are expected to arrive in Metro Manila for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit from November 17 to 20. The event will seriously affect road traffic and even NAIA flight schedules. Here is what you need to know.


President Barack Obama is only one of the many world leaders who will make their way to Manila next month for the APEC Leaders’ Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. With countless VIPs and up to 7000 attendees in total, the event will have a huge impact on the city, including changes to road layouts, a modified truck ban, cancelled flights, and special non-working holidays.

The MMDA alone will deploy over 2500 traffic and emergency personnel to secure the delegates, with special VIP lanes being set up in several thoroughfares in Metro Manila. On EDSA, two lanes on both northbound and southbound directions from Shaw Boulevard to Mall of Asia will be designated exclusively for APEC delegates. “APEC lanes” will also be set up on the southbound lane of Roxas Boulevard, while the northbound lane will be shared by motorists and public utility vehicles for two way traffic. Teams from the Traffic Management Group, Motorcycle and Mobile Group, Clearing and Cleaning Group, Traffic Engineering Group, Road Emergency Preparedness Group, Pedestrian Safety and Control Group, as well as the Flood Control Group will also be deployed to help with proceedings. Expect a whole lot of uniforms on the roads then, similar to what was taking place during the visit of Pope Francis.

A modified truck ban will also be put in place to help with traffic and security arrangements during the summit. The modified ban will be in place from 6 am to 10 pm on November 17 to 20, and affect trucks travelling to and from the Port Area in Manila and the South Luzon Expressway. Truck drivers are instructed to use the alternative route from the Port of Manila straight to R10, then right at C3 Road, left at Andres Bonifacio Avenue, right turning to the flyover towards Quirino Highway, then right at Mindanao Avenue, left at Congressional Avenue, right at Luzon Avenue, and straight to Katipunan / C5 to SLEX, and vice versa.

Pope-Francis-Philippines-Manila-Papal-Visit-2014Remember him? Expect similar traffic restrictions when the less holy APEC leaders come to town

Flights to and from Ninoy Aquino International Airport will also be affected as world leaders jet in and out for the summit. Philippine Airlines (PAL) has said it will announce its list of cancelled flights once authorities have confirmed what restrictions will be placed on air traffic during the period from November 16 to 20. The company has already stated that passengers with confirmed tickets for flights during this period have the option to rebook their flights, with penalty charges for doing so being waved. Passengers are advised to contact PAL via their hotline on (02) 855-8888, visit any PAL Ticket Office, or log on to the company’s website for updated information.

Cebu Pacific went one step further and has already published a list of cancelled flights which you can access here. The company has stated that passengers can either rebook their flights for travel within 30 days from the original departure date or opt for a full refund or travel fund. The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is also advising passengers to carefully plan travel during these days and you should check with your booked airline to see if any delays or cancellations may occur. Heads of state will start arriving on November 16 and 17, with VIPs departing again from Manila on November 19 and 20. Normal flight operations are expected to resume on Saturday, November 21.

A positive side effect, at least for many people working in the Metro, is the fact that President Aquino – citing security reasons and the need to ease traffic flow – has declared November 18 and 19 (Wednesday and Thursday) as nonworking holidays for the APEC leaders’ meeting. The Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Education also ordered the suspension of all classes in the metropolis from November 17 to 20.

According to government sources, while there are no official plans yet to cut off cellphone reception for security purposes (as was done during the visit of Pope Francis), restrictions on communications are apparently “still being studied”, meaning while not officially confirmed, signal outages may well be part of the security measures put in place for the event. The general advice given by most government sources is to stay well away from the affected routes during the event and instead consider using the additional holidays for out of town activities.

APEC consists of 21 member-economies including developed and developing countries namely: Australia, the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, Canada, the USA, Chinese Taipei, China, Hong Kong, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Chile, Russia, and Vietnam.