By Emmie V. Abadilla
A triumvirate of Chinese airlines starts flying from Shanghai and Xi’an direct to Cebu this month as Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) opens two new routes to China, developer GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) announced.
China Eastern and Juneyao Airlines will both start flying from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to MCIA.
China Eastern will have seven flights weekly in its first run from October 18 to October 28, 2017. It will resume operations on January 18, 2018. Juneyao Airlines starts thrice weekly flights on October 30, 2017.
Meanwhile, Okay Airways will launch thrice weekly flights to China’s historic city of Xi’an on October 30, 2017.
Juneyao Airlines and Okay Airways are MCIA’s newest Chinese airline partners. New routes to Beijing and Bangkok are expected to be opened in the next two months.
By end-October, MCIA will serve a total of 18 international destinations and 35 domestic destinations.
“Promoting the province and its surrounding areas to other Asian countries, especially China, is among our highest priorities,” noted Louie Ferrer, GMCAC President.
So far, “Studies have shown that China is the highest spending tourist market in the world – we want to bring this high-spending Chinese market to Cebu.”
Cebu also appeals to tourists as a tropical destination. “Cebu has natural wonders but it still has all the modern luxuries. Its people are very warm towards visitors and can communicate well in English.”
The main strategy in strengthening Cebu’s connectivity is destination marketing.
“We have seen outstanding results from our destination marketing initiatives these past three years but this is only the beginning,” Ferrer explained.
“We are promoting Cebu to other untapped markets and this includes other provinces in China. Australia and other Southeast Asian countries like Thailand are also high on our list.”
Furthermore, MCIA is also targeting new flights to North Asia, the Middle East, North America, and Europe. Later this year, the company will likewise add more domestic flights.
“We are very excited by these developments. As Cebu’s tourism grows, so will the airport. We are working round the clock to ensure that MCIA is capable of handling the increasing number of passengers.”
GMCAC took over operations of Mactan-Cebu International Airport on November 1, 2014. At the time, MCIA had only seven international and 23 domestic destinations.
Last month, GMCAC and MCIA hosted the Global Airports Development (GAD) Asia Conference, the first airport development conference to be held in the Philippines. Leaders in international airport finance and development attended the event.
In 2016, MCIA was named Best Regional Airport in Asia Pacific from the CAPA Center for Aviation. Earlier this year, it received a special Commendation for Excellence in Airline Marketing from Routes Asia.