Mactan-Cebu International Airport, the second largest airport in the Philippines is poised for more rapid growth in 2016 as the Philippine Airlines (PAL) continues to pursue as its second hub with more domestic routes and the launch of services to Los Angeles, USA.
The Centre for Aviation (CAPA) says Cebu is has emerged as one of the fastest-growing airports in Southeast Asia with passenger growth of 13% in the first 10 months of 2015. Mactan-Cebu International Airport has been boosted by the relaunch of several domestic routes by PAL as well as international expansion from PAL, Cebu Pacific and foreign carriers.
CAPA says Mactan-Cebu is well positioned for long-term growth as the airport’s new private owners have begun construction of a new terminal, which will increase annual capacity to 12.5 million annual passengers. The new terminal will enable Cebu to build as a hub for transit traffic and to benefit further from infrastructure constraints in Manila which are prompting Philippine carriers to base additional aircraft at secondary cities.
Cebu handled 6.4 million passengers in the first 10 months of 2015, representing 13.4% growth compared with the same period of 2014. Cebu is on pace to end 2015 with nearly 8 million passengers.
Cebu’s prior historical high was 7 million annual passengers, which was achieved in 2013. Cebu saw its traffic drop by 2.2% in 2014, driven by a contraction at PAL as the flag carrier restructured its domestic operations. Growth peaked at 14.8% in 2011, before dropping to 8.9% in 2012Full year growth for 2015 could surpass the 14.8% achieved in 2011, given the surge in recent months. The Oct-2015 result was 17.9% passenger growth, and for the three months of 3Q2015: growth exceeding 20%.
CAPA noted that Cebu Airport’s traffic fluctuates significantly depending on the time of year – as it does throughout the Philippines – with December, January, April and May being the strongest months.
Cebu Pacific opened a base in Cebu about five years ago and has since steadily expanded its Cebu operation. The Cebu Pacific Group currently has about 110,000 weekly seats at Cebu, making its operation slightly less than one third the size of its Manila base. The PAL Group is almost as large as Cebu Pacific in Manila, but even with the growth in 2015 its Cebu base is now less than one fifth the size of its Manila base.
While PAL now has seven domestic routes, the Cebu Pacific Group has 22 domestic routes from Cebu, according to OAG data. Cebu Pacific serves seven of these routes with a mix of turboprops and jets, six with only jets, and nine with only turboprops, the group’s turboprops are operated by regional subsidiary, Cebgo.
Last year, Cebu Pacific has continued to expand on point to point secondary domestic routes from Cebu. While the group’s capacity on Cebu-Manila has remained flat at about 44,000 weekly seats, its capacity on other domestic routes from Cebu has increased over the last year by about 14% to approximately 57,000 weekly seats. While the additional 7,000 domestic seats represent capacity much smaller than the seats that PAL Express has added in Cebu, it is still significant, and has helped drive an overall increase in domestic traffic at Cebu.