THE Mactan-Cebu airport may see rapid growth in 2016, according to the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA).

While the local airport expands with another terminal, local airlines use it more as a take-off point for both domestic and international flights, the CAPA said, making it a favorable alternative to Manila’s already congested Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).

Mactan-Cebu airport’s upgrade and renovation was the first project awarded under the public-private partnership (PPP) program. The upgrade began in June 2015 and is set to be completed around second quarter of 2018.

The new terminal of the local airport is projected to increase its annual capacity to 2.5 million passengers, positioning it for long-term growth, CAPA said in a report released in late December.

The Mactan-Cebu airport is the second largest airport in the Philippines. The CAPA expects it to be a hub for transit traffic, while aiding the decongestion of the NAIA in Manila.

“The new terminal will enable Cebu to be a hub for transit traffic, and to benefit further from infrastructure constraints in Manila, which are prompting Philippine carriers to base additional aircraft at secondary cities,” the CAPA reported.

The new terminal being constructed by private partner GMR-Megawide will have a total floor area of 65,865 square meters across three floors.

With Cebu-Mactan’s potential as the Philippines’ new transit, local carriers see the need to increase aircraft base in the city of Cebu, CAPA said.

It added that 2016 seems fruitful for the airport, as the country’s flag-carrier, Philippine Airlines (PAL), continues to pursue expansion in the local airport with more new domestic routes and the launch of its Cebu-Los Angeles services.

Local budget carrier, Cebu Pacific Air (CEB), is also expanding its Cebu base this year with at least two more turboprops, the CAPA noted.

“The domestic growth in Cebu by both the CEB and PAL groups helps position Cebu as a hub not only for domestic connections, but also in the international market,” the center said.

CEB and PAL have both been expanding their international operations in Cebu. For PAL, the domestic connections are particularly important, as the company prepares to launch long-haul operations in Cebu, with a new route to Los Angeles.

In 2014, the Cebu-Mactan airport was the 14th largest in Southeast Asia, based on passenger traffic, and is expected to go up to the 11th or 12th spot in 2015.

Cebu saw 6.4 million passengers in the first 10 months of 2015, representing a 13.4-percent growth from the same period in 2014. The local airport expects this number to land at nearly eight million passengers by the end of 2015.

03 January 2016
By Maria Laura Angeles