MCIA emerging as key air hub in the Philippines
Carlo S. Lorenciana (The Freeman) - January 19, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — The Mactan-Cebu International Airport is poised to become the country’s key hub for international and domestic travel with the opening of the airport's second passenger terminal middle this year.

Alice Queblatin, president of the Cebu Association of Tour Operations Specialists (CATOS), said the Cebu airport has become a key air hub in the Philippines.

Queblatin called for continued effort to connect Cebu to major international air hubs.

Recently, she said Cebu has seen an increasing routes mounted by international airlines.

The upcoming Terminal 2, she said, is an added boost to the growing interest among airline companies to operate in Mactan Airport.

She said there is definitely a need to strengthen Cebu’s connection to domestic and international destinations.

Queblatin said the travel and tourism industry in general is looking forward to a banner year this 2018 as they look to Cebu’s increased international connectivity with the new airport terminal.

"We've seen more airlines that have now started operating in Cebu," she said.

Passenger traffic at the country’s second busiest airport hit 7.547 million from January to September in 2017.

Official data showed Mactan airport's passenger traffic in the first nine months of  2017 rose 14 percent to 7.547 million from 6.599 million in the same period last year.

The airport has set a 10-million passenger arrival target for 2017.

During the nine-month period, international passengers grew 31 percent to 2.350 million from 1.797 million last year. While domestic passengers reached 5.197 million, up 8 percent from 4.801 million last year.

Meanwhile, air traffic volume also saw a 20 percent growth from January to September this year to 64,102 from 53,204 last year. International flights reached 15,483, up 35 percent from 11,454 last year, while domestic flights rose 16 percent to 48,619 from 41,750.

Publicly listed Megawide Construction Corp took over operations of the Mactan airport in November 2014 through GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp (GMCAC) with its Bangalore-based foreign partner GMR Infrastructure Ltd.

The construction of MCIA's new passenger Terminal 2 is in full swing and is expected to be completed on schedule in June next year.

This will bring the airport’s capacity to a total of 12.5 million passengers per annum.

In 2017, the company was able to bring in 22 major international and domestic airlines serving 33 domestic and 16 international destinations.

Megawide expects its airport business segment to gain traction with its continuous effort to market Cebu as an alternative international gateway to the Philippines, given its strategic geographical location and proximity to tourist destinations in southern Philippines.

MCIA recorded a 12 percent increase in passenger traffic in 2016 to 8.9 million – 6.7 million domestic passengers and 2.2 million international – as it aims to reach 10 million passenger arrivals this year.

GMCAC seeks to pursue new and diverse routes and increasing travel and tourism to the Visayas-Mindanao regions.

For the next two years, the firm is planning to introduce new routes that will connect Cebu to Australia, Europe and other Southeast Asian countries, as well as expand routes to China, Japan and South Korea.

The company is also targeting new flights to North Asia, the Middle East, North America, and Europe.

Promoting the province and its surrounding areas to other Asian countries, especially China, is among GMCAC's highest priorities.

Studies have shown that China is the highest spending tourist market in the world – and that there's a need to bring this high-spending Chinese market to Cebu.

Last November, two Chinese airlines namely Juneyao Airlines and Okay Airlines started servicing flights at Mactan airport.

Last month, flag carrier Philippine Airlines also launched the first ever Cebu-Bangkok Thailand route and four new domestic routes from Cebu.  (FREEMAN)


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