Following the eruption of Taal Volcano, Manila's Ninoy Aquino Airport (NAIA) shut down operations as the Philippine government ordered evacuations of nearby residential areas amid concerns of a larger eruption.

Taal Volcano - located around 50 kilometers (~30 miles) south of Manila in the province of Batangas, Philippines - had its first eruption during the afternoon of January 12 as volcanic ash rose up to 14 kilometers (9 miles) into the sky.

As a result of the eruption and the risk of volcanic ash affecting aircraft, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) suspended flights at NAIA and issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) affecting departures and arrivals between 6:30PM to 11PM. Flights operated by major airlines including the top three carriers of the country - Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Philippines AirAsia - were suspended and those on the way to the city were divered to airports such as Clark in Pampanga.

According to an estimate by the CAAP, the flight suspensions affected 80,000 passengers on 516 flights.

Departures would eventually be resumed the following day (January 13) as airport opened for departures at 10AM and 12 Noon for arrivals. While the airport resumed partial operations, some flights during the week were cancelled.

Clearing Ash on the Ramp Areas

While flights have been arriving and departing at NAIA, the issue of volcanic ash which made its way to Manila has prompted cleaning efforts on aircraft and the airport facilities. Even with the cleaning efforts, Manila Airport's General Manager Ed Monreal the airport has issued a notice to airlines regarding traces of ash on runways, taxiways, and ramp areas.

Cleaning efforts went on from 4AM Monday, and the airport imposed maintenance closures on Monday and Tuesday between 10PM to 4AM.

However, to accommodate recovery flights the airport has since suspended the maintenance closures while airlines have been working to bring operations back to normal.

"Larger Eruption" in the Future

Though things appear to be returning to normal for now, officials are warning of a potential eruption that could be larger than the one on January 12. With the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raising the alert level to 4 (an "explosive eruption can occur in hours or days"), government ordered evacuations are ongoing for nearly a million people living within 17.5 kilometers (10.5 miles).

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