Cebu has recently opened the resort-themed Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) Terminal 2 and will commence its operations starting July 1, 2018. AirAsia, on the other hand, has announced that they will be transferring all their international flights to and from Cebu to the brand new Terminal 2.
Captain Dexter Comendador, AirAsia Philippines CEO, sees the huge potential for growth of their Cebu hub with the opening of the P17.5-billion Terminal 2.
“We are delighted to be moving to a new terminal, which will provide our guests with enhanced travel experience. The relocation to the new terminal also provides us with great capacity for long-term growth and expansion in Cebu as AirAsia’s hub,” Comendador said.
Last May, AirAsia has opened two new routes to China from Cebu. Direct flights from Cebu to Shenzen took effect last May 9th and Cebu to Hangzhou last May 18th. On July 7th, AirAsia will start operating flights from Cebu to Shanghai.
“Visayas and large parts of Mindanao are underserved markets that are saddled by high air fares due to limited operations or duopoly. We are excited to introduce new flights from Cebu to VisMin and vice versa and make flying more affordable, accessible through our signature low fares,” Commendador added.
With these rapid changes, I can’t help but think about AirAsia’s aggressive take on increasing their routes in the Philippines. As an avid traveller, it gives me great joy to know that more hubs are being opened in the country, specifically in my hometown Cebu, to offer easy access to fellow travellers like me to visit other Philippine provinces as well as neighboring countries in ASEAN.
The opening of the second passenger terminal in Cebu aims to increase Cebu’s annual passenger capacity from 4.5 million passengers per year to 12.5 million. The resort-themed MCIA T2, built by Filipino-Indian consortium GMR-Megawide, which showcases beautiful curved wooden roof arcs that look like an inverted boat hull and wave-like ceilings that resemble that of a tropical and resort-like feel aims to delight everyone’s travel experience when promoting tourism in the Philippines. These changes will in turn stimulate and spur economic activities in the region.
Growth & Connectivity
AirAsia, being the number one low-cost carrier in the world, made sure it made its presence felt in supporting the Philippines’ rapid growth. Aireen Omar, Deputy Group CEO for Digital, Transformation, and Corporate Services, states the importance of connectivity in strengthening their presence in the region.
“Asean is the best place to grow our business. This remains to be our priority market,” said Omar. “With our huge network in Asean, it would now be easy for us to connect all destinations like Cebu. It’s just a matter of linking all these points.”
To realize their growth in the Philippines, AirAsia seeks the government’s support to scrap the Travel Tax among Filipinos, lower airport taxes and lower terminal fees.
“As a group, when we build the network, we feed into each other’s traffic. We stimulate traffic. When Philppines grow, Indonesia also grows because then we will be able to serve the region better by having more connectivities in ASEAN.”
Omar visited Cebu recently and was one of the speakers of the Innovation Summit Conference and Expo held at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino last June 19-20, 2018. The event is part of the month-long celebration of the 2018 Cebu Business Month.
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes, through a video message, also sent his congratulations with the opening of the new terminal hub and mentioned that he considers Cebu as a very important part of AirAsia’s development.
“We are thrilled of the progress. In fact, we will be launching in July 7 the maiden flight of Cebu-Shanghai (China) direct route to complete our three new connections between Cebu and China this year,” he said.
Omar also emphasized the utilisation of technology to improve efficiency, productivity and operational excellence.
“It is very important to embrace the technology that can facilitate volume so that it will be a seamless journey for our passengers,” she said.
With the passengers’ ease and comfort always in mind, AirAsia continuously strives to be the leader in innovation to stay ahead of the airline industry. They have fully invested in digital innovation by offering web bookings, SMS bookings, mobile web bookings, self check-in kiosks, baggage self tagging, onboard wifi access, e-boarding passes and facial recognitions.
During my trip to Malaysia last year, I got the chance to use their baggage self-tagging feature, which was quite an experience. I really look forward to seeing this feature implemented in all airport terminals in the Philippines.
Another exciting innovation I’d like to see for the Philippines is the Fast Airport Clearance Experience System (FACES), Malaysia’s first airport facial recognition system with self-boarding gate. FACES uses the latest biometric facial recognition technology to identify enrolled guests as they approach the automated boarding gate, allowing them to board their flight without having to present any travel documents. This is a pilot project that started at the Senai Airport in Malaysia last February 2018 and AirAsia is hopeful that they can roll out this technology throughout the rest of ASEAN countries.
AirAsia currently connects Cebu to Manila, Puerto Princesa, Davao, Clark and Caticlan. They also operate other international flights in Cebu to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Taipei and Incheon. AirAsia guests holding international flight bookings to and from Cebu’s Mactan International Airport (MCIA) starting July 1 are being advised that their flights will now operate in Terminal 2.
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