Japanese airlines to alter routes to avoid North Korean missile

Tokyo (AFP) –


Japan's two biggest airlines said on Friday they are changing routes for some flights as North Korea plans to launch what it says will be a satellite-bearing rocket later this month.

All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines said that between February 8-25 -- the launch window announced by Pyongyang -- they will divert planes that fly over waters off the Philippines where missile parts and debris are expected to fall after the launch.

The change will affect three ANA flights -- from Tokyo's Haneda airport to Manila, from Manila to Tokyo's Narita International Airport, and from Jakarta in Indonesia to Narita, the airline said.

Two JAL flights, meanwhile, from Jakarta to Narita and from Narita to Manila, will also be diverted, Japan Airlines said.

All the flights are expected to suffer delays of between five to 10 minutes, the carriers said.

Sanctions imposed by the United Nations prohibit North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology, and such a launch would amount to another major violation of UN Security Council resolutions following its fourth nuclear test last month.

The North insists its space programme is purely scientific in nature, but the United States and allies including South Korea say its rocket launches are aimed at developing an inter-continental ballistic missile capable of striking the US mainland.