MCIA to regain pre-pandemic passenger traffic in two years

Published July 31, 2020, 1:17 PM

by Minerva Newman

CEBU CITY— The Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) is expected to get back its pre-pandemic passenger traffic in two years, according to its General Manager and Chief Executive Officer Steve Dicdican.

In a virtual press briefing with the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (OPAV) and hosted by Assistant Secretary Jonji Gonzales, Dicdican said that MCIA registered 12.6 million passenger traffic in 2019, and that, in 2020, the airport will likely  see passenger traffic plunge to about three million, a level that was last seen more than 10 years ago.

“The impact is really big. Prior to COVID-19 (coronavirus disease), we had 12.6 million in passenger traffic last year and beginning February this year onwards, traffic drastically went down,” Dicdican said

He went on that MCIAA records showed that, for the month of June 2020, passenger traffic reached only 26,018, a huge drop from the more than one million passenger traffic in June last year.

While MCIA was doing well in January, the passenger traffic plunged when the travel restrictions were imposed, Dicdican added and the passenger traffic for the first six months of 2020 reached only 2.463 million, compared to 6.353 million registered in the same period last year, Didican bared.

He noted that before the COVID-19 pandemic, MCIA could accommodate some 1,900 commercial flights weekly, and 31,100 passengers daily, and that there were 28 commercial airline companies with flights to and from MCIA.

Currently there are only 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, Dicdican added.

Despite the decline, Dicdican stated that MCIAA would still push through with the projects for the airport 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 situation.  If you don’t do capital spending, you won’t grow and we must anticipate for growth because we know that tourism can quickly get back once restrictions are lifted and once anxiety is gone,” Dicdican pointed out.

He added that MCIAA will continue with the projects, and will be slowly catching up to full blast construction of the second runway with hopes to finish it before the end of the current administration, probably early 2022.

Upon completion of the runway project, the airport will have a dedicated runway for take-offs and another one for landings.  The second runway will also serve as a back-up in case something happens at the other runway.  This will be the first airport in the country with two completely parallel runways, another milestone for Cebu, he said.

While MCIA has started to resume airport operations, Dicdican said that it will take time for the airlines to respond, airlines resuming flights to and from Cebu will also have to work to market their routes as travel demand remains low this time.