Tourism to get boost with 2018 opening of 2nd Cebu terminal, seaplane routes

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  • Construction of the P17.5-billion Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 is in full swing and on track for its June 2018 opening, said Ravi Saravu, chief commercial adviser of the GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation on Wednesday.

Cebu City (CNN Philippines, Aug 3) Tourism to islands in central Philippines is getting a boost with less than a year to go before the opening for a new terminal on Mactan island and the launch of new flight routes via seaplane, officials said.

Construction of the P17.5-billion Mactan Cebu International Airport Terminal 2 is in full swing and on track for its June 2018 opening, said Ravi Saravu, chief commercial adviser of the GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation on Wednesday.

The new terminal spanning 65,500 square meters is expected to double passenger capacity of the airport to 12.5 million from 6 million when it begins operations, he added.

This, since terminal 2 will allow new routes or direct flights between Cebu and other destinations in Southeast Asia, Australia, and Europe, Saravu said.  The terminal will also have a mall, casino, and a hotel.

Mactan-Cebu International Airport now hosts flights from China, Hong Kong, Japan Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Arab Emirates.

Terminal 2 the first resort-airport in PH

The second terminal, once completed, can accommodate up to 72 check-in counters and anywhere from seven to 12 boarding bridges  for commercial airplanes, including wide-body aircraft, Saravu said.

The design highlights Mactan-Cebu terminal's "resort-airport" theme, officials said. The design team is Hong Kong-based Integrated Design Associates and top Filipino designers Budji Layug, Royal Pineda, and Kenneth Cobonpue.

A prominent design element of the new terminal are a series of 15-meter high arches that span 30 meters, and evoke the image of waves on the seas surrounding Mactan Island, and the shape of the "bangka," officials have said.

Construction of the new terminal began in June 2015, under a public-private partnership program between the Philippine government and GMR-Megawide. GMR-Megawide is a consortium between India's GMR Group, a private airport developer and operator which also owns and operates the international airports in Delhi and Hyderabad; and Megawide Construction Corp. of the Philippines.

Also read: DOTC to break ground for Mactan-Cebu International Airport

Seaplanes to cut travel time to popular dive spots

Meanwhile, a private operator of seaplanes, AirJuan Aviation Inc., is set to fly routes from Cebu City to popular but far-flung tourist destinations in the Visayas, cutting travel time significantly, airline officials said Tuesday.

By October, the newly opened Cebu hub of AirJuan plans to operate out of Cebu City's South Road Properties in the Cebu Harbor, and fly to well-known dive spots in the Visayas, such as Malapascua Island, Bantayan Island, and the Camotes Group of Islands, said AirJuan President John Gutierrez.

They are also looking into flying direct to the town of Oslob in southern Cebu which is known for whaleshark watching. A trip by land from Cebu City to Oslob takes four hours.

AirJuan said its Cebu base will soon operate routes to Bohol, Negros Oriental, Leyte, and Siquijor.

Gutierrez was speaking Tuesday at the launch of AirJuan Cebu hub, which marked the opening with a maiden flight from Cebu to Maasin in Leyte.

AirJuan now flies from Mactan Cebu International Airport to Daanbantayan, Cebu where the white-sand Kandaya Resort is located. The route has cut travel time from five hours by land to just 20 minutes, the airline said.

In Negros Occidental, local government officials eyed more tourists arriving to the region following the opening of an airport in Barangay San Jose in Sipalay City on Wednesday. Sipalay is four hours south of Bacolod City.

The opening of the Sipalay Airport, with its 1,400-meter runway, was marked by the inaugural flight of AirJuan from Cebu to Sipalay, Negros Occidental.  The airline will fly twice a week from Cebu to Sipalay, and Sipalay to Iloilo, it said.

Sipalay City is known for its beaches and is popular with tourists from Negros and Cebu. Sipalay mayor Oscar Montilla said he expects more visitors from Cebu.

Gutierrez of AirJuan said the airline was looking to expand its routes from Sipalay to include Busuanga and El Nido in Palawan.

A July 2017 survey by the Philippine Statistics Authority showed that among the top 10 destinations in the country for Filipinos were the National Capital Region, Cebu, Negros Occidental, and Leyte.

Cebu-based journalist Dale Israel and Bacolod-based journalist Shiela Gelera contributed to this report.