Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade on Thursday said improvements in Cebu’s premier airport will play a big role in boosting the tourism economy in the province.
Tugade, who led the inauguration of the six-story Mactan-Cebu International Airport’s (MCIA) new corporate building, said the completion of such a project came in time with the approval of the request to increase the airport capacity amid the effort to recover the economy.
He noted that Cebu is recognized as a tourism hub in Central Visayas.
Tugade noted that Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority General Manager Julius Neri requested to increase the airport’s capacity to 2,000 from the existing 1,000.
“As you request to increase the capacity. You have to commit and assure me that there will be no congestion. Ibig sabihin ang mga passenger ay madaling makalabas ng (That means passengers can go out fast from the) airport,” the secretary said in his speech.
The passengers coming from different places in the country or abroad should not be inconvenienced by spending so much time in queuing either for quarantine processing or taking of the swab specimen for the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, he said.
The DOTr chief also prodded Neri and other airport officials to make the second runway project by April or a month ahead of the revised target date of completion next year.
The second runway worth PHP2 billion was originally contracted to finish in 730 days.
However, Neri said during the succeeding press conference that because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the contractor was confronted with the shortage of personnel as well as some hitches in the delivery of aggregates used in building the runway.
The delay forced airport officials to revise its target completion date from February to May in 2022.
Record showed that the second runway is at 53.11 percent complete.
“As we put this office building, the airport terminal and the second runway, we are telling to the whole world: come to Cebu and make this as your place of business. Here, you can be conveniently attended to. As you do business, you can be a tourist. We are creating a platform of tourism booster,” Tugade said.
Meanwhile, the newly inaugurated corporate building will house MCIAA employees in a single edifice that is complete with modern equipment and facilities and is featured with a command center.
Neri said the new corporate building is standing in a 16,000 square meter lot inside the airport complex and is worth PHP744 million.
The building is set to have elevated passageways that are connected to the terminal buildings for the convenience, safety, and protection of workers and staff.
Tugade also highlighted the effort of the DOTr to develop existing community airports like the Bantayan Airport in the town of Santa Fe in Bantayan Island and the Medellin Airport in northern Cebu province.
Tugade said the Bantayan Airport will officially be operational by April 2022 as President Rodrigo Duterte pledged PHP150-million funding for the completion of the airport’s runway expansion project.
“This project will allow others to experience the beauty of Bantayan Island and easier access to this beautiful destination,” the DOTr chief said in Tagalog.
The project will also pave the way for more commercial aircraft to land on the island, known for its white sand beaches, to boost tourism and other economic opportunities in the northern part of the province.
The project involves the widening of the existing narrow runway and the construction of taxiway and apron areas.
The expansion effort will ensure compliance with established safety standards and will make the Bantayan Airport equipped for night-time flight operations and commercial aviation activities.
The DOTr chief also said he will inspect the Island of Camotes in Cebu province’s western seaboard to check the viability in the opening of another airport in the area. (PNA)