MCIAA: All flight routes to normalize by Q4 of 2023

IT WILL take 10 more months for pre-Covid-19 pandemic international and domestic flight routes at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to return to normal, an airport official said.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) General Manager Julius Neri told SunStar Cebu on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023, that they expect all flight routes to resume by the fourth quarter of this year.

He said they expect a high volume of passenger traffic this January with the return of Cebu’s Sinulog Festival and introduction of more international flights.

Although passenger traffic is still below pre-pandemic levels, Neri said domestic flights have reached 70 percent capacity, while International flights have climbed to 40 percent capacity as of December 2022.

“For January we are expecting for it (international flights) to go up to maybe 50, 60 and even 70 percent... as of December (2022) the average was only at 40 percent,” Neri said.

He said the number of international and domestic flight routes is set to increase at the country’s second busiest airport and will return to pre-pandemic levels this year.

As of this month, though, direct flights between Cebu and China have yet to start.

Another challenge is the limited flights per week to and from Korea, in comparison to the daily flights before the pandemic.

“The key for us is to open our traditional market, which is China. We are also hoping that Korea will increase the number of arrivals,” Neri said.

“China has only now started to open up and we have zero direct flights to China. Another main market was Korea and there are already five airlines from Korea flying to Cebu. The frequency of flight is not yet daily for all the airlines... for some it’s only three times a week when before they used to fly daily,” Neri said.

NEW ROUTES

Meanwhile, the GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. and the MCIAA welcomed the arrival of Turkish Airlines’ first reciprocal flight to Cebu on Tuesday, Jan. 4. The airline started the thrice a week Istanbul-Manila-Cebu flights, connecting Cebu to more than 320 destinations in over 120 countries around the world.

Last December, more airlines had re-opened domestic flights at the MCIA. At least four new domestic routes were introduced by Philippine Airlines (PAL) connecting Cebu to Baguio, Borongan, Cotabato and Tawi-Tawi.

PAL also re-introduced last December the direct flight between Cebu and Bangkok in Thailand while another international carrier, China Airlines, opened direct flights between Cebu and Taipei in Taiwan on Dec. 1.