Cebu airport targets 10 million passenger arrivals by end-2017


BusinessWorld Online

GMR-MEGAWIDE Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC) is aiming to reach 10 million passenger arrivals at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) by the end of the year, a 12% increase from the 8.9 million recorded in 2016.

GMCAC, the joint venture of listed builder Megawide Construction Corp. and its partner, Bangalore-based airport operator GMR Infrastructure Ltd., said the country’s second busiest gateway recorded 8.9 million passengers last year -- 6.7 million domestic passengers and 2.2 million international.

“2016 grew 11.5% from the previous year, with 2015 passenger arrivals registering a total of 7.98 million with 5.91 million domestic passengers and 2.07 international passengers,” GMCAC said in a statement.

The company and the MCIA Authority (MCIAA) expressed confidence the airport will hit 10-million passenger arrivals by the end of 2017, 12% up from the previous year, as it is promoted as the gateway to southern Philippines.

“By pursuing new and diverse routes and increasing travel and tourism to the Visayas-Mindanao regions, we are ensuring long-term sustainability and economic and social benefits for the passengers and the businesses,” GMCAC President Manuel Louie B. Ferrer was quoted as saying.

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

MCIAA is offering incentives to airlines, in a bid to encourage them to expand their routes from Mactan-Cebu airport. The statement did not specify what kind of incentives are being offered to international and domestic airlines.

For the first quarter, flag carrier Philippine Airlines is introducing five new domestic routes from Cebu to Clark, Puerto Princesa, General Santos, Surigao and Coron.

“We are proud and excited to be at the helm of this growth. With a total of 16 international destinations, 27 domestic destinations and with 19 partner airline carriers, it shows that Cebu is no longer just a secondary airport. It is a viable choice connecting to the rest of the Philippines and to the world,” Mr. Ferrer was quoted as saying.

In 2016, Mactan-Cebu Airport had new international destinations, namely to Los Angeles (PAL); Xiamen (Xiamen Air); Dubai (Emirates); Chengdu (China Eastern Airlines and PAL); Hangzhou (Air Asia); Wuhan (China Eastern Airlines); and Daegu (T’Way Air).

New domestic routes were launched from Cebu to Ormoc, Calbayog and Roxas by Cebu Pacific, it added.

With these new international and domestic destinations, GMCAC noted that increasing Mactan-Cebu Airport’s capacity is the “next crucial step.”

“We need proper infrastructure so that we can accommodate more airlines and more flights. Route development is essential to an airport; the more flights we have, the more passengers will pass through our gates,” GMCAC’s Mr. Ferrer said, adding that the construction of passenger terminal building or MCIA Terminal 2 is already underway.

The new terminal, which will boost the MCIA’s capacity to 12.5 million passengers, is scheduled to open by June 2018.

The current terminal was designed for 4.5 million passengers.

“This airport is more than a transfer point. We are making it a vital part of the Cebu experience,” Mr. Ferrer added.

GMCAC won the contract in April 2014 for the P17.52-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport Passenger Terminal Building project under the Aquino administration’s flagship public-private partnership (PPP) program.

The government turned over the airport’s operation and maintenance to the GMR-Megawide consortium on Nov. 1, 2014. Although the Concession Agreement stated that Terminal 1 renovations would commence after completion of Terminal 2 in 2018, GMCAC said it decided to undertake major renovations to improve passenger comfort in the existing terminal immediately after handover. -- Imee Charlee C. Delavin