Cebu City (CNN Philippines) — The P32-billion Mactan-Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 project broke grounds on Monday (June 29).

President Benigno Aquino III led the ground-breaking rites at the site of the old Philippine Air Force base in Lapu-Lapu City which is currently being demolished to pave way for the new terminal’s construction.

The new terminal, located just beside the existing one, spans approximately 50,000 square meters with modular expansion capacity. It is expected to be finished by the first quarter of 2018.

Its completion is seen to increase the airport’s capacity from 4.5 million to 12.5 million passengers, officials said.

In his speech, Aquino prided the new development as a product of the public-private partnership (PPP) initiative of his administration.

Aquino said the terminal project is one of the 10 solicited PPP projects awarded by his administration to the private sector since December 2011 to July 2015.

GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC), which is managing the airport terminal’s operations, said in a statement it is investing nearly P32 billion for Terminal 2’s first phase of development.

The cost of construction is pegged at P17.5 billion while another P14.4 billion was earlier paid to the national government as premium.

GMCAC president Louie Ferrer said they have tapped international and Cebuano designers to conceptualize the overall look, but he assured that the new terminal will reflect the rich heritage of Cebu.

Its architectural features, he said, will incorporate local materials such as wood, to modern building materials like steel.

There will be a two-level forecourt segregating the arriving and departing passengers.

It will also have 48 check-in counters that are expandable to 72 and provisions for seven boarding bridges which can be expanded to 12 boarding bridges serving both wide and narrow-body aircraft.

The new terminal will be equipped with 12 escalators and 15 elevators and a car park that can accommodate more than 500 cars.

Future developments following Terminal 2’s opening in 2018 will include a mall and a hotel.

Over the three years of construction, GMCAC chief executive adviser Andrew Harrison noted that the works for Terminal 2 will help generate at least 2,000 job opportunities for locals.

In addition, Harrison said an additional 500 jobs will be made available once the new terminal starts operating.

Under the concession agreement, GMCAC will operate the airport for 25 years under a public-private partnership scheme. It officially took over airport operations last November 1, 2014.

Nearly eight months since the airport had been turned over to GMCAC, officials announced that “substantial developments” have been undertaken within the existing terminal.

Among the recent improvements include the new white taxi boarding lanes, the opening of a centralized security check via five X-ray machines to help achieve a seamless flow of domestic and international passenger traffic, provisions for an air-conditioned “meeters and greeters area,” installation of self-service check-in kiosks to reduce check-in counter queues, an expanded check-in counters that now total to 53, new flight information display and a fully-equipped airport clinic.

By August, GMCAC will be installing a device that will verify flight and boarding pass information to optimize passenger flow at the airport.

It will also have brand-new toilets by then as the existing ones are currently renovated and expanded by nearly 40 percent in size.

29 June 2015
By John M. Destacamento