March 19, 2009
The figure is the first officially recorded report of the slow down that was predicted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to hit this year.
Francia note that the decline in international arrival was however compensated with a 20-percent increase in domestic flights at the airport for the same period in January. There were 3,013 inbound and outbound domestic flights at the MCIA, which translates to about 303,412 serviced passengers.
The international flights on the other hand showed 688 inbound and outbound flights at the MCIA. This means that 89,518 passengers were serviced by the airport in January, according to the traffic movement statistics made by MCIA statistician Eric Briones.
In contrast, tourism figures painted a different statistics. The number of foreign tourists directly arriving at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport last January grew 5% year on year to 36,653.
“We were surprised at the figures because of the very significant increase,” said Department of Tourism Undersecretary Phineas Alburo.
Foreign tourists from mainland China arriving in Cebu last January increased 204%, while visitors from Hong Kong rose 163%. In addition to the growing number of Chinese visitors, Russian tourists also increased 133% and Indians by 108%. Russians come during their winter period to stay for 12-15 days, while Indian tourists stay for an average of 20 days.
The figures are based on the records of the Bureau of Immigration regarding the number of tourists who landed at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, said Alburo. “The industry has not been affected that much. The tourism industry in Cebu continues to be vibrant, and tourism-related businesses continue to hire people,” said the Cebuano undersecretary.
The airport and tourism statistics can however be reconciled, as majority of the foreigners arrived on domestic flights from other regions in the country that their entry can be attributed either to Manila International Airport, Clark International or Kalibo International airport, which all registered positive growth. All airports have flights going to Cebu and vice versa.
Alburo continued that Philippine Airlines will launch a direct Manila–New Delhi flight by August to capitalize on the growing Indian market. The flights could be accelerated depending on the response of the market, he said.
In 2008, the airport served 21,969 domestic flights carrying about 2.997 million domestic passengers while international flights totaled 6,436 flights which carried 994,136 passengers. MCIA handled about 3.991 million passengers in total. It also service 52,691 aircraft in the airport in all categories. The airport terminal has a designed passenger capacity of 5 million passengers, with 3.5 million devoted to domestic operations.
In 2007 it handled 3.14 million passengers and served a total of 48,364 aircraft for domestic, international, general aviation, and military planes.
Despite the global economic crisis of year 2008 aircraft movements recorded a growth rate year on year of 13% for domestic and 3% for international over 2007. The volume of domestic passenger grew by 8% and 3% for international. But international cargo volume declined by 9% and 8% for domestic compared a year ago.