THE Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) was named Asia Pacific’s Regional Airport of the Year by aviation think-tank Center for Asia-Pacific Aviation, as the air hub has established itself as an advanced gateway to the region.
The MCIA web site said the award “is given to the regional airport that has been the biggest standout strategically, has established itself as a leader and done the most to advance the progress of the aviation industry.” Candidates were short-listed by a team of analysts and by aviation partners from Heidrick & Struggles.
GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. President Louie Ferrer said his group is elated by the award, and is reflective of the company’s multibillion-peso program to modernize the airport.
“In the past, we have only been known for having the worst airports, but through Mactan-Cebu International Airport, we are changing that mind-set,” he said.
The award is underscored by the company’s celebration of its second anniversary as airport operator and the air hub’s ranking as 14th Best Airport in Asia on the web site The Guide to Sleeping in Airports. The Cebu regional hub rose four spots in this category from 18th last year.
In light of the award, Andrew Harrison, who sits as chief executive adviser at GMR-Megawide, said he looks forward to further increasing the airport’s connectivity.
“Route development is essential to an airport. The more flights we have, the more passengers will pass through our gates,” he said.
The airport operator has focused on increasing the number of destinations since the handover. There will be 14 international destinations by the end of this year from just seven in 2014, with 45 Air Traffic Movements (ATMs) per day, as compared to 30 ATMs previously.
It is also connected to 26 domestic destinations, with 139 domestic flights per day, as compared to 115 ATMs in 2014.
“We want to strengthen Cebu’s position as an international hub,” Harrison said. “We take advantage of market opportunities, and ensure continued dialogue with existing carriers, while presenting business cases to potential airlines. We also regularly consult with stakeholders, such as tourism authorities, and the travel and tourism sector.”
Ferrer said maximizing the airport’s connectivity lends great support to harnessing Cebu’s potential as a tourist destination.
“Cebu was recently named one of the best island destinations in the world and promises an incomparable experience for the traveler. Since the airport is the first and last impression visitors have of Cebu, we want to make sure we make a worthy impression,” he said.
The airport’s design positioning as a resort-airport also continues to generate excitement, with stakeholders looking forward to opening of Terminal 2 in 2018.
“Not only will the terminal look distinctly Filipino; it will also be a complete experience of Filipino hospitality the moment you land,” Ferrer said.
Since 2014, the company has introduced enhanced passenger experience and additional local and international flights from Cebu, setting a continued uptrend in passenger throughput and making it the airport of choice for passengers going to and from Visayas and Mindanao.
The airport’s first terminal is currently undergoing modernization, which includes the launch of new passenger processing technologies such as the country’s first Veripax Passenger Reconciliation System, which streamlines the airport’s security check process.
Other improvement include greener terminal building with new seats, renovated washrooms, new self-service check-in kiosks, and new immigration, customs and quarantine counters, among others.
The project also involves the construction of a new world-class passenger terminal building. Once Terminal 2 is open, the airport will have a boosted annual passenger capacity of 12.5 million from 4.5 million. It is set to be launched in mid-2018.