By Minerva Newman
CEBU CITY – The Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) has recorded 3.87-million domestic and 1.89-million international passengers from January to June this year increasing domestic traffic by 10.19 percent and international passenger traffic as well by 17.54 percent.
GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) president Louie Ferrer said MCIA has handled 5.78-million passengers for the first half of this year, a 12.50-percent year-on-year increase compared to 5.12 million in 2017.
Ferrer said air traffic movement recorded this year was at 49,843 flights, 12.86-percent increase from 44,165 flights last year. Peak domestic passenger traffic was recorded in May 2018 with 760,000 passengers.
International traffic meanwhile peaked during the months of January, February, May, and June with a monthly average of 320,000 passengers, Ferrer added.
“We closed the mid-year with a remarkable performance and we are positive to hit the projected 11.2-million passenger traffic this year especially now that we have opened Terminal 2,” Ferrer noted.
More routes in domestic and international destinations
The newly opened Terminal 2 is dedicated to serve international flights and can accommodate 4.5-million passengers, according to Ferrer increasing MCIA’s current passenger capacity to a minimum of 12.5-million passengers per year due to the opening of more connections to local regions in the country as well as in Southeast Asian destinations.
Philippines Air Asia launched three new routes out of MCIA to Chinese destinations– Hangzhou, Shenzhen, and Shanghai. Meanwhile, it added a thrice-weekly flight to Clark in May.
Philippine Airlines subsidiary, PAL Express, resumed PAL’s Cebu-Chengdu service on May 8 and mounted charter flights to Hangzhou and Nanjing in July.
Cebu Pacific has started charter services as well to two Chinese destinations namely, Shanghai and Beijing with 3 and 2 weekly flights, respectively.
Other foreign carriers also mounted new routes from Cebu Airport including Beijing-based airline Okay Airways which kicked off its Cebu-Changsa-Cebu on June 10 with its thrice weekly flights.
China Eastern Airlines upgraded its Cebu-Shanghai service from an A320 to the wide-body A330 aircraft starting this month. The A333 (33E) aircraft has a capacity of 29 Business class and 203 Economy seats, while the 33L aircraft that they are using offers 31 Business class, 32 Premium Economy, and 229 Economy seats.
Royal Air Charter Service Inc., the newest addition to the airlines operating at the Mactan-Cebu Airport, commenced its nonscheduled, daily charter services from Cebu to Macau starting June 20.
The increase in flight frequencies and the addition of new routes especially to China indicates a growing demand from the Chinese market for alternative travel destination and “Cebu has become that top choice for them,” Ferrer added.
Marketing Cebu as a premium destination
According to Ferrer, we are promoting Cebu as a premium destination in the country and with the opening of the Terminal 2 GMCAC remains committed to make Mactan Cebu Airport (MCIA) as the major transfer hub in Southeast Asia.
Ferrer bared that early this month, GMCAC partnered with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in welcoming about 300 Filipino-Americans who participated in the 12th Ambassador’s Tour.
Led by Consul General of the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles Adelio Angelito Cruz, the guests were treated to a warm welcome at the Cebu Airport with a rondalla and sweet treats as they start their 5-day tour in Cebu and Bohol, Ferrer said.
In May, the Tourism Promotions Board organized a familiarization tour for top European operators in Makati City bringing major travel and tour operators from UK, Spain, Italy and Turkey to the Philippines, highlighting Cebu as a key destination for travel, leisure and business, Ferrer added.
GMCAC continues to market Cebu to North America and Europe in partnerships with participating airlines such as Air Swift, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Air Asia, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, Emirates, and Eva Air. Ferrer said that GMCAC also organized sales missions in the key cities in the Visayas and Mindanao regions.
“We constantly explore new markets that have a potential to expand the connectivity of Cebu to other countries particularly North America, Europe, Australia, and other Asian countries,” Ferrer said.