DESPITE the plummeting tourist arrivals, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) is expected to get back to its pre-Covid passenger traffic in two years.
Steve Dicdican, general manager and chief executive officer of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA), recalled that the airport had registered 12.6 million passenger traffic in 2019.
For this year, Dicdican said MCIA is likely to see passenger traffic plunging to about three million, a level that was last seen more than 10 years ago.
“The impact is really big. Prior to Covid, we had 12.6 million in passenger traffic last year. Starting February this year onwards, traffic drastically went down,” he said during the Mugstoria Ta aired on the FB page of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas.
MCIAA records showed that for the month of June 2020, the passenger traffic reached only 26,018, a huge drop from the more than one million passenger traffic in June last year.
While the MCIA was doing well in January, the passenger traffic plunged when the travel restrictions were imposed. The passenger traffic for the first six months of 2020 reached 2.463 million, compared to 6.353 million registered in the same period last year.
Before the pandemic happened, there were 28 commercial airline companies with flights to and from MCIA.
4 foreign airlines resume flights
Currently, Dicdican said, there are four foreign airline companies that have resumed operations at the airport.
These are Qatar Airways (Doha-Cebu-Doha), Jeju Air (Incheon-Cebu-Incheon), Silk Air (Singapore-Cebu-Singapore) and Jin Air (Incheon-Cebu-Incheon). Air Asia, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines also have limited flights.
Despite the decline, the MCIAA said it will push through with the projects for the MCIA, including the parallel runway to prepare for the eventual return of tourists.
“Our income has drastically dropped. But that does not mean that we stop our capital spending. It’s a chicken and egg. If you don’t do capital spending, you won’t grow. And we have to anticipate for growth because we know that tourism can quickly get back once restrictions are lifted and once anxiety is gone,” Dicdican pointed out.
“We will continue with our projects. We’re slowly catching up to full blast the construction of the second runway. We hope to finish it before the end of this administration probably early 2022,” he added.
Upon the completion of the project, the airport will have a dedicated runway for take-offs and another one for landings. However, the second runway also serves as a back-up in case something happens at the other runway.
“This will be the first airport with a completely parallel runway so that’s another milestone for Cebu,” Dicdican said.
While MCIA has started to resume airport operations, he said it will take time for the airlines to resume other flights.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, MCIA could accommodate some 1,900 commercial flights weekly and 31,100 passengers daily.
According to Dicdican, airlines resuming flights to and from Cebu will also have to work to market their routes as travel demand remains low at this time. (PR)