Mactan loses 4 International destinations in 2008

As Airport grapples for foreign Tourists

30 July 2009

CEBU CITY – Mactan Cebu International Airport (MCIA) disclosed that it lost four international connections last year as traffic drops in third and fourth quarter due to worldwide recession which resulted to dwindling international passenger traffic.

Cebu Pacific suspended flights to Macau, Bangkok, and Taipie, while both Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines suspended flights to Incheon, South Korea due to low traffic volume. Flight to Incheon was restored lately this year.

Danilo Francia, MCIA general manager said that the airport was really feeling the heat of the global recession as international flights dropped by 4%. He was however bullish on the prospect of growth this year with the introduction of more flights by Silk Air to Singapore.

Meanwhile, a bomb joke prompted the grounding of Silk Air flight M1-541 bound for Singapore for almost four hours Tuesday afternoon after an unknown person sent a text message to airport manager Francia warning on the presence of a bomb on board the Airbus A-320 plane.

The plane which carried 127 passengers on board was supposed to take-off from Cebu at 1:45PM until Francia received the message which read: "Mga kapatid, Allahu Akbar. Ipagdasal natin ang kaluluwa ng kapatid natin namatay sa pagsabog ng Silk Air minuto ngayon patungo Singapore allahu akbar - JI."

Supt. Joselito Salido, head of PCAS, said they took the bomb threat seriously specially that the word ‘Allahu Akbar’ was spelled correctly. The extremist Jiyah Islamiyah is a terrorist group that has been responsible for bombing spree in Mindanao with the objective of creating a mega-muslim state in South East Asia which include Singapore. They are very capable of doing the threat says Salido.

The pilot was immediately informed and instructed to abort take-off and park the jet at taxiway “Charlie” near runway 22 while the Police Center for Aviation Security (PCAS), the Special Reaction Unit (SRU) of the PNP searched the plane accompanied by bomb-sniffing dogs.

Passengers were immediately ordered to disembark and were ferried by bus to the terminal building. Francia said the passengers’ pieces of luggage were taken out of the cargo hold and individually inspected by the K-9 squad and arranged on the taxiway for identification by their respective owners.

Then the passengers were taken by bus from the terminal back to where the airplane was parked, to identify their belongings.

After an almost two-hour search, the Airbus 320 plane was cleared to fly at 5:45 p.m.

Mactan is the second gateway to the Philippines next to Manila. It handled 3.9 million passengers in 2008.

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