Two major Japanese airlines — Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) — are altering the routes of some flights to avoid possible falling rocket parts following North Korea’s announcement of a planned missile launch, according to a report by NHK World.
JAL and ANA reportedly made the decision on Thursday after Pyongyang notified international organizations of a planned launch sometime between Feb. 8th and the 25th. The launch is generally viewed as a test-firing of a long-range ballistic missile, though North Korea officially says it plans to orbit a satellite.
The announcement by the air carriers notes that parts of the rocket will likely fall in waters in the Pacific east of the Philippines. The area overlaps with some JAL and ANA flight routes that connect Japan and Southeast Asian nations.
Both carriers say they plan to detour several flights a day during the period of time designated in the North’s notification. The diversion is expected to add up to 10 minutes to the flight time on the usual routes.
Some South Korean experts speculate that North Korea will launch its satellite, named “Shining Star,” on Feb. 16. The date is the birth anniversary of late North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the father of present leader Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-il’s nickname was Shining Star. Feb. 16 is officially known in North Korea as the “Day of the Shining Star.”
Pyongyang previously, in April 2012, fired a long-range rocket to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung, the father of Kim Jong-il.