Cebu Airport Targets International Revival

Credit: Zairon Jacobs/Alamy Stock Photo

When Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines touched down at Mactan-Cebu International (CEB) in mid-January, the carrier became the fourth new international airline to begin scheduled flights to the Philippine airport within the space of 12 months.

The launch of the route from Taipei Taiwan Taoyuan (TPE) came just weeks after China Airlines debuted at Cebu, also flying from Taipei. These new services followed the start of Singapore Airlines’ one-stop from Singapore (SIN) via Davao (DVO) earlier in the year, as well as Turkish Airlines’ operations from Istanbul (IST) via Manila (MNL).

Aines Librodo, head of airline marketing and tourism development at airport operator GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation, told Aviation Week Network that the new airline partners have provided a boost as the recovery kicks in. However, she admits that international traffic remains “a work in progress.”

“More than 60% of Cebu’s traffic comes from North Asia and, except for Korea, service from Japan and China has been slow to resume,” she says. “We closed 2022 with about half of our destinations reopened, but the number of pre-pandemic international passengers was lower by 64%.”

Librodo says load factors for flights to South Korea are in the “high 80s” and the airport expects additional frequencies such is the demand. She also highlights Singapore as a standout performer, with flight frequencies back to 21 per week, down by just five on 2019 levels.

“We are focused on the resumption of our pre-pandemic connectivity,” Librodo adds. “We hope to increase capacity on unserved and underserved routes to destinations in Southeast Asia including Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and several points in Vietnam.”

Read the full interview with Aines Librodo in the Day 2 issue of Routes Daily, published at Routes Asia 2023 in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

David Casey

David Casey is Editor in Chief of Routes, the global route development community's trusted source for news and information.