Mactan Cebu International Airport, your gateway to the world

Jinggoy I. Salvador

HEAVY runway traffic equals delayed flights. That is what Manila airports are today. It has come to a point that when the plane departs on schedule people say, "Thank God, we leave on time." Somehow delayed flights have become an accepted fact when flying. But imagine if we miss our connecting international flight. That's big time hassle.

For us in Mindanao utilizing the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) is a great alternative for several reasons. First, when traveling abroad the Cebu leg cost is cheaper than traveling to Manila. Second, Cebu is closer thus cutting travel time to final destination. Third, Cebu is a hub, which means its partner airlines service its first flights out of Cebu to its destinations. This plus the light air traffic compared to its Manila counterpart, the chance of flights being delayed will be very low, if none at all.

If you haven't seen the Cebu airport lately, then you'll be up for a surprise when you chance a stopover. When operations and management was handed to GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC), a private-public partnership between the GMR Group of India and the Megawide Construction Corporation, in 2014, the company fast-tracked in-terminal developments to reduce congestion, improve ambiance and enhance customer service.

MCIA's transformation is impressive. I've seen how the old, unused corridors of the original edifice come to life, how it was brightened up, renovated and upgraded to what it has become recently. It's spacious, functional, passenger-friendly and fitted with modern appointments.

But modernization is still happening. June this year marks an even more important date for MCIA as it inaugurates the new Terminal 2.

"The construction of a new world-class Passenger Terminal Building or MCIA Terminal 2 is already in full swing and is meant to drive further growth in passenger traffic, which translates to a more robust tourism environment for the region. As of January, the construction of the new terminal is at 89% completion," shared Andrew Acquaah Harrison, Chief Executive Advisor of GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation during the recent presentation in Davao.

Joining GMCAC in the presentation were representatives of Air Swift, Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines, Philippines Air Asia, Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, Emirates, and Eva Air to promote their connections via Cebu.

Integrated Design Associates (IDA) from Hong Kong is working with Budji Layug, Royal Pineda and Kenneth Cobunpue on the design, look and feel of the new terminal. Envisioned for the 65,000-square meter terminal is a world-class facility with a unique design that will demonstrate the warmth and friendliness of the local culture.

The spacious new terminal will lessen congestion, increase passenger capacity to 12.5 million and offer an exciting and wide-ranging retail environment.

"The most recognizable element of the terminal is the dynamic elegance and lightness of the roof. The structure is composed of an array of glulam arches, which form the roof curvature and define its geometry and modularity. The arches span every 30 meters, which enables Terminal 2 to be as column-free as possible. The internal spaces are enclosed by a light and transparent glazed façade. The arch façade is 15 meters tall and is accentuated by vertical U channels. The timber arches become the main element in the creation of a dramatic internal space, with sleek geometries and dynamic perspectives, where the undulating roof is reminiscent of the waves of the seas around Mactan Cebu Island," said Harrison.

"A two-level forecourt segregates both the Arrivals and Departures area that is fully integrated with landside development. There will be 48 check-in counters that are expandable to 72. It has provisions for seven passenger boarding bridges, which can be expanded to 12 boarding bridges serving wide and narrow body aircrafts. It will also be equipped with 12 escalators and 15 elevators facilitating the easy movement of passengers, especially for persons with disabilities."

With the opening of the Terminal 2 and the launch of new flights out of Cebu, Mactan Cebu International Airport is eyeing an 11.2-million passenger traffic in 2018. This is a projected 12% increase from 2017's passenger count of 10 million.

In 2017, MCIA welcomed an addition of six new airlines namely Air Juan (which connects Cebu to smaller islands in the Visayas), Juneyao Air, OK Air, Lucky Air, Sichuan Airlines, and Pan Pacific Airlines.

When planning your next international trip, consider taking the via Cebu route. It will be more economical, faster and more convenient.

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For more photos about this feature, visit ofapplesandlemons.com. For travel stories, visit jeepneyjinggoy.com. Email me at jinggoysalvador@yahoo.com