Smoke from raging forest and peat fires in Indonesia’s Kalimantan region has begun to spread across the region with reports that airfields as far away as the Philippines have been forced to close owing to poor visibility conditions.
According to the AFP, airports on the central Filipino islands of Cebu and Negros have experienced severe delays with both Philippine Airlines (PR, Manila) and Cebu Pacific Air (5J, Manila) temporarily suspending flights to Cotabato, Dumaguete and General Santos earlier this month. Operations at the country’s main Manila hub have also been disrupted.
Airports at Clark, Cotabato, Davao, Cagayan de Oro Laguindingan, General Santos, and Zamboanga in Mindanao, and Cebu and Busuanga in central Philippines have also grounded all aircraft incapable of instrument approach landings as a precaution.
In Indonesia, the effect is more pronounced with local carriers such as KalStar (KD, Berau) having cancelled over 1,000 flights over the past month following the closure of airports at Pontianak, Sintang, Pangkalanbun, Balikpapan, Malak, Samarinda, Tanjung Selor, Tarakan, and Malinau.
Indonesia has appealed to the international community to assist it in fighting the fires which have been burning now for the last four months. Russia has so far sent in two Beriev Be-200 waterbombers while the Singapore Air Force (Singapore Changi) has dispatched Chinook helicopters to fight fires in Sugihan, Ogan Ogan Ilir, and South Sumatra. Australia also supplied a Lockheed Hercules for a brief period.