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Cebu airport operator expects more airlines

Megawide Construction Corporation projects the number of airlines operating at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to double in three years, in time for the completion of the construction of the airport’s second terminal in June 2018.

“We have 22 now. Easily in the next two years, we expect another 15 to 20 airlines, flights to come in. We can double easily in less than three years,” according to Megawide President and Chief Operating Officer Edgar B. Saavedra.

MCIA only had seven airlines when it took over operations alongside foreign partner GMR Infrastructure Ltd. in 2014. The Megawide-GMR joint venture company won the contract for the P17.52-billion MCIA Passenger Terminal Building project under the Aquino administration’s public-private partnership (PPP) program and the concession to develop MCIA for a period of 25 years.

Saavedra said they are in talks with several Chinese airlines, which are interested in adding routes between China and Cebu amid strong interest from Chinese tourists.

“We are talking around four to five Chinese airlines. In MCIA, there are already direct flights from Cebu to Beijing and second-tier cities like Chengdu, Xiamen. And it can expand more, because the Chinese are very aggressive right now especially when the (Philippine) government approved the no-visa policy. We expect a huge influx of Chinese tourists,” added Saavedra.

Last August, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a circular allowing Chinese citizens the visa-upon-arrival option in an effort to attract more tourists and investors from China. The government expects the number of Chinese tourists in the country to double in the coming years, which stood at over 675,000 in 2016.

In May 2017, Chinese arrivals were recorded at 73,649, 57.29% higher than year-on-year figures. This is also the third highest figure for international tourist arrivals after Korea and the United States.

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