MANILA, Philippines – GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC), the operator of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), will soon see Chinese airlines increasing their flights to Cebu, thanks to the country’s warmer ties with China.
GMCAC, the consortium of Megawide Construction Corporation and Bangalore-based GMR Infrastructure Limited, said 3 Chinese airlines, including their national carrier Air China, will introduce new flights to Cebu.
GMCAC said Xiamen Airlines will add twice weekly flights between Cebu and Fuzhou as well as Cebu and Jinjiang starting April.
Xiamen Airlines already has existing Xiamen-Cebu flights. (READ: IN NUMBERS: Philippines-China relations)
GMCAC added that another regional airline based in Chengdu, Sichuan Airlines, will begin operating 4 times weekly flights between Cebu and Chongqing, the largest municipality in southwest China, this month.
GMCAC chief executive adviser Andrew Acquaah Harrison last week told reporters that Air China will start flying to MCIA soon.
“They are just waiting for confirmation of slots… It’s the national carrier so it’s a big thing,” Harrison said.
“They have been wanting to fly because of demand… Their option was Beijing and Shanghai but maybe the available slot is in Beijing… 26th of March, start of flights,” he added.
With the country’s friendlier ties with China, more Chinese tourists are coming to the Philippines.
The chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said last January that the number of Chinese applying for a tourist visa to the Philippines has surged by 250% to 1,400 daily.
Data from the Department of Tourism (DOT) showed that Chinese tourist arrivals in the Philippines jumped by 20.43% in December 2016. The DOT said China ranked 3rd with 45,336 arrivals that month.
NEDA Director-General Ernesto Pernia had attributed the increase in Chinese tourists to the improved diplomatic relations between the Philippines and China since President Rodrigo Duterte’s state visit to Beijing in October 2016, leading to the lifting of Chinese restrictions on travel to the Philippines.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua had said in a statement that he expects one million tourists from China to visit the Philippines in 2017. (READ: Ties with China to fill infra spending gap, pose risk to PPP)
Philippine Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo said Zhao’s forecast is consistent with the DOT’s goal to attract at least 7 million international visitors this year. – Rappler.com