The return of the PAL Cebu-Los Angeles
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - January 7, 2020 - 12:00am

The best news for 2020 came to me as a text message from Philippine Airlines (PAL) Vice-President Harry Inoferio when he wrote, “Bobit we are relaunching our direct Cebu/LAX flights effective first week of May at 3X weekly. Promo rate from Cebu for as low as $570 in economy and $2,720 for Business Class plus applicable taxes.” You can try to Google this report and it is not yet there but indeed, this route from Cebu will be a great blessing to Cebuanos more so that Terminal 2 has been operational since June 2018.

Three years ago, PAL invited me to inaugurate the Cebu/LAX flight, after all, as a columnist, I’ve been asking for this route for many decades. It finally came around March 2016. However, I got sick a few days before the flight. Because my daughter is a doctor, she urged me to have a checkup at the Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital for the very first time in my life. I was introduced to my nephrologist Dr. Juliet Noel at that time. When she released me, she asked me to visit her after my US trip. It was only then that I came to realize that my kidneys were starting to fail.

Anyway, months after that Cebu-LAX flight, PAL had to stop this flight due to many issues. Also, passengers on the plane didn’t have a state-of-the-art entertainment system. But with Terminal 2 operating, many people would like to go to the US through the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA). So this means come first week of May, we welcome the return of the Cebu-LAX flight. Of course, for so many Filipinos price is often the reason why they fly. And at the rate of $570 it is a cheap way to go to the US.

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In a somewhat related piece of good news, we learned that the consortium of Cebu-based company, Duros Development Corp. (DDC) and China Construction First Group won the bid for the construction of the secondary parallel runway of the MCIA with a total project cost of P2.078 billion. This was reported by no less than Rafaelito Barino, chairman of the Duros Group of Companies, who made the announcement during the State of Duros Address held on January 3 at the Divine Life Institute of Cebu in Yati, Liloan.

DDC is the flagship company of the Duros Group of Companies, which started out as a family venture of Barino along with his wife, Fe Mantuhac Barino, and the Mantuhac siblings. The consortium is registered with the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board and will operate under the name Duros Development Corp./China Construction First Group.

The project is expected to be completed by 2022 or before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends. DDC is the first Filipino contractor based in Cebu to undertake an airport runway project.

During my 20-year stint as private sector representative of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority, I started asking the group why we couldn’t have a parallel runway like most American airports. Unfortunately, the Department of Transportation and Communications would cast this request aside, telling us that we don’t need a second runway. The reason I started asking is because whenever a plane gets stuck on the main runway, we have to shut down airport operations.

Mind you, there was a time when air traffic congestion was unheard of. However, there was an important need for a second runway simply because we had to maintain the main runway as it often gets overused. After years of prodding, it was only when GMR-Megawide won the bid to operate MCIA when part of their development was to install a second runway.

Then suddenly, air travel has become a favorite Filipino pastime to the point that flights to and from our airports became congested. It was only then that the DOTr realized that a second runway was needed so badly. At the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) it became so congested that now people are thinking of using the Sangley Air Force runway as an alternative airport to NAIA.

Now that Duros has won this contract I would like to know exactly where they would put the second runway. Will they put it beside the present MCIA runway? Perhaps Lito Barino ought to explain this to me so as not to get confused.

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