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New MCIA terminal to service int’l flights starting on July 1

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MACTAN CEBU International Airport’s Terminal 2, described as the world’s first “resort-airport,” will start operations on July 1. — ARRA B. FRANCIA

By Arra B. Francia, Reporter

LAPU-LAPU CITY, MACTAN — President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Thursday led the inauguration of the second terminal of the Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA), which is expected to ease congestion at the Philippines’ second busiest gateway.

The three-storey terminal covering 65,500 square meters (sq.m.) will service solely international flights starting July 1. MCIA’s Terminal 1 will be dedicated for domestic flights.

The P17.5-billion MCIA expansion was the biggest public-private partnership (PPP) project awarded by the Aquino administration. In 2014, GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC), a joint venture of Bangalore-based GMR Infrastructure Ltd. and Megawide Construction Corp., won the contract for the project and the concession to operate and maintain MCIA for 25 years.

“As one of the finest airports in Asia, this will showcase the best of what the Philippines has to offer. The construction of the second terminal of MCIA shows that the government and private sector as partners are committed to provide people with the necessary infrastructure to be more productive and provide more meaningful lives,” Mr. Duterte said in a speech during the terminal’s inauguration.

He added that this will spur economic activity in Cebu and the Visayas region.

“Without doubt this project will result to inclusive growth in the countryside… As we look forward to a promising future for Cebu and the rest of the Visayas, I call upon MCIA and the rest of the Cebuano community to join us in developing the potential of localities,” Mr. Duterte said.

Terminal 2 will be able to accommodate eight million passengers annually, bringing MCIA’s total capacity to 12.5 million.

“For the past years, MCIA’s demand has exceeded the physical capacity of its terminal. With the addition of Terminal 2, not only will we be able to sustainably cope with the steadily increasing number of passengers, we will also be able to open Cebu to more international flights,” GMCAC President Manuel Louie B. Ferrer said.

The MCIA is the country’s second largest airport facility, servicing around 10 million passengers in 2017, well beyond its 4.5-million capacity.

To-date, the airport offers a total of 25 international destinations and 30 domestic destinations through its 26 partner airlines.

With the second terminal’s opening, GMCAC said it expects passenger traffic to reach 11.2 million this 2018, 12% higher than the year before.

GMCAC Chairman Srinivas Bommidala noted the company remains optimistic on the Philippines’ growth.

“Terminal 2 is a testament to GMR Group’s credentials as a leading global airport developer and operator. We are optimistic about the Philippines’ growth story, specifically in aviation, and look forward to contributing further to its ongoing Build, Build, Build program,” Mr. Bommidala said.

Among the features of Terminal 2 are 48 check-in counters (expandable to 72), provisions for seven passenger boarding bridges (expandable to 12), and 12 escalators and 15 elevators. There is also a parking facility that can accommodate up to 750 cars.

The terminal will also house 3,000 sq.m. of gross leasable spaces that will cater to retail and commercial establishments, including a walk-through Duty Free store.

The group tapped Hong Kong-based Integrated Design Associates to give add resort-inspired elements to the new terminal. For instance, the roof is made up of an array of glulam arches spanning 30 meters, minimizing the number of columns in the building.

British firm SSP Group, meanwhile, will manage the terminal’s food and beverage segment. This is the same group that operates some of the busiest airports in the world such as London’s Heathrow Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

GMCAC is also proposing to build a second runway for MCIA, but this is still up for review by the Department of Transportation.

The GMR-Megawide consortium earlier this year submitted a proposal to the government to rehabilitate the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for $3 billion, going against a proposal made by a group composed of seven of the country’s largest conglomerates.