Cebu’s resort airport rising
CEBU CITY—In three years, Cebu will have what the national capital doesn’t have: a world-class resort airport.
This was made possible after Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) awarded the contract to renovate and expand the Mactan Cebu International Airport under the government’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) program to the GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC).
“Cebu deserves to have a world-class airport,” said Louie Ferrer, president of GMCAC, the company that has taken over the operations and management of the airport after winning the bidding for the MCIA modernization project that aims to increase the airport’s passenger and aircraft capability.
GMCAC is the company formed after the consortium composed of the GMR group of India and Megawide Construction Corp. of the Philippines won the bidding for the modernization and expansion of the MCIA terminal building.
The consortium submitted the highest bid for the project at P14.404 billion premium, outbidding AAA Airport Partners, Filivest-CAI Consortium, First Philippine Airports, MPIC-JGS Airport Consortium, SM-led Premier Airport Group and San Miguel-Incheon Airport Consortium.
Once completed in 2018, the airport’s passenger handling capacity will increase from the present 4.5 million to 15 million.
The 25-year concession agreement undertaken by the DOTC and Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) with GMCAC involves the construction of a new international passenger terminal building.
GMCAC also has to renovate the existing terminal building.
GMCAC took over the operations and maintenance of MCIA on Nov. 1, 2014.
Since the company took over the airport, it has seen increased passenger traffic.
From Nov. 1, 2014 to June 2015, the airport has served 560,000 more passengers compared to the same period in 2013 to 2014, said Andrew Azquaah-Harrison, chief executive advisor of GMCAC.
But beyond building a world-class airport, GMCAC has more ambitious plans for the airport.
“We aim to be (the world’s) number one in our category,” Harrison said.
While the concession agreement required GMCAC to complete the renovation of the existing terminal building by 2018, Harrison said the company decided to start implementing changes to address passenger congestion at the airport.
“We decided that the condition of the terminal is such (that) we could not leave it alone,” he said.
For phase 1 alone, GMCAC is investing P33 billion in the improvements of the existing passenger terminal building.
The investment in phase 2 of Terminal 1 refurbishment is yet to be determined.
Phase 1 includes the installation of the VeriPax passenger reconciliation system. Rockwell Collins, the company that developed the system, explained that VeriPax reads boarding passes using new 2D barcode scanners, automatically screens passengers against airline host systems in real time, determines clearance and provides alerts to agents when necessary.
Once completed, this system will enhance the processing speed of passengers while helping airlines reduce the flight delays.
The company also implemented the airport operations database (AODB) and the electronic baggage reconciliation system.
An AODB is the central database or repository for all operative systems and provides all flight-related data accurately and efficiently in a real-time environment to approved users.
On the other hand, an electronic baggage reconciliation system is a method of baggage management that creates a bag tag and tracks the baggage throughout the sorting process until it is delivered to the aircraft.
Another improvement will be the installation of level 3 in-line screening for checked-in baggage.
This will involve the replacement of conveyor lines to match the new system. The equipment for level 3 in-line screening will cost $1.5 million, Harrison said.
The company also introduced common security checks for passengers boarding domestic and international flights, which doubled capacity of security X-ray lanes.
By relocating offices and other tenants, the company expanded the security check area to address the congestion at the passenger processing area for those taking domestic flights.
The company also implemented a common check-in system for all airlines to maximize the use of the existing number of check-in counters.
The soft renovation of phase 1 also involved the repair of ceiling and floor tiles, the refurbishment of wash rooms, the improvement of lighting, the putting up of signages in English, Japanese and Korean and repainting works.
For repainting of the terminal building, the company has allocated P11 million.
And for the first time in the Philippines, passengers will have their boarding pass scanned by readers at electronic gates, which will swing open upon real-time verification of the boarding pass, for more efficient and faster boarding.
Plans are also underway for self-service check-in kiosks in selected hotels and in the port area.
On the other hand, the construction of the new terminal building, which is expected to be completed in 2018, is a collaboration of Hong Kong-based Idee, Cebu’s own Kenneth Cobonpue and Budji+Royal Architects & Designers.
While the design for Terminal 2 will be modern, it will also reflect the rich Cebuano heritage and culture.
Upon completion of the modernization project, the airport will have the following features:
20 aircraft parking stands with passenger tubes;
13 aircraft parking stands that would be served by bus transfers to minimize delays in disembarkation;
Dedicated domestic and international terminals connected by link bridge for the convenience of passengers making connecting flights;
149 check-in counters for international and domestic flights for passenger convenience;
Modern airline lounges;
Enhanced in-line automated baggage handling system;
Parking facilities for passengers and visitors, and;
An airport village mall complex adjoining the terminal with retail and entertainment options.
Harrison said the company would also focus on the development of the country’s tourism industry by working closely with the stakeholders, including hotels, tour operators and the local governments to ensure a total package that would address the needs of tourists and visitors.
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