By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita July 01,2018 - 10:34 PM

Passengers who arrived on the first flight to land at the new Terminal 2 of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport are welcomed with gift boxes they can retrieve at the baggage carousel along with their own pieces of luggage.


It rained — hard — hours before the scheduled opening of the world’s first and only resort airport.

But hours after the downpour, the warmth was palpable inside the new Terminal 2 of the Mactan- Cebu International Airport (MCIA) even when it was still past 3 a.m. of Sunday, July 1.

The familiar drum beats of the Sinulog and the dancers clad in purple and gold bodysuits filled the arrivals hall of the new terminal as they welcomed the first arriving passenger into the terminal — some 180 passengers aboard China Eastern Airlines Flight MU 5023 from Shanghai, China.

Instead of looking lethargic and sleepy from the early morning flight, the passengers were wide awake, with some even dancing along to the Sinulog beat.

The others were busy collecting their baggage from the carousel, which was also filled with boxes of treats that contained otap, dried mangoes, and chicharon prepared by airport officials as a welcome gift to the passengers.

Tablea (native chocolates) and chocolate drinks were also handed out to the passengers by The Chocolate Chamber.

“It’s a very nice feeling. The terminal is getting bigger and I’m surprised. It was very fast to get through the process and it really felt like coming home,” Carl Edmondson told Cebu Daily News.

The 59-year old American is married to a Cebuana and they have been visiting Cebu every one or two years for the past 23 years.

Minor glitches

Despite some minor hitches and concerns, airport authorities were happy and satisfied with the first day of the commercial operations of the P17.5-billion Terminal 2.

Louie Ferrer, president of GMR-Megawide Airport Corp. (GMCAC), the private operator of the MCIA, said everything went according to their plan.

“So far, so good. Everything went well according to plan. There are little surprises from the Mactan Airport. We handed out gift boxes. The Sinulog dance contributed to welcoming the passengers,” he told reporters.

He admitted though that the entire process was not perfect and there were some challenges.

Among these was the fact that the entire terminal was not yet 100 percent finished. Some areas were yet to be fully furnished although in terms of operational capability, it was already running.

Ferrer said passengers and Cebuanos should expect even more improvements, especially aesthetically, in the terminal in the coming weeks and months.

For his part, Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) General Manager Steve Dicdican also observed some concerns as he went around the terminal.

“We saw some areas we need to improve. For instance, the x-ray machine, it’s very high-tech. Some passengers were not able to properly use it. It’s a learning experience. We’ll strive to provide instructional materials for passengers,” he said.

He was referring to the automatic tray retrieval system at the final security check of the airport wherein passengers don’t have to take out the trays themselves.

They will just wait for it come and they just put in their hand-carried bags and gadgets.

Very warm reception

But Dicdican commended the activities at the arrivals area, especially with welcoming the arriving passengers saying the “reception was very warm.”

The Terminal 2 opened at the strike of midnight while check-in process commenced at 1 a.m. of Sunday for the first flight leaving the new Terminal –

China Eastern Airlines Flight MU5024, which left Cebu for Shanghai, China at 4:40 a.m. yesterday.

Among the first passengers to admire the departures area and its amenities were Joy Peralta, 46, and her husband Rodrigo, 49, and their young son.

“I’m impressed. It is really of international standards. I have been to other airports like in Korea, Hong Kong and this terminal is comparable to them. It is really nice,” Joy told CDN.

They were bound to Chicago in the United States, where they reside, and had a layover in Shanghai, China.

Joy is a Cebuana whose parents live in Barangay Labangon, Cebu City.

They arrived in Cebu last June 22 to visit her sick mother and also spent the last two weeks relaxing, going to the beach and doing island-hopping with the family.

Joy has been working for over 20 years as a nurse in Chicago.

She specifically said she liked the new plastic chairs at the boarding gates, which she preferred over the cold, metal chairs in the old terminal.

However, she also pointed out that there were still some areas where the terminal could be improved especially since it was not yet completely finished.

The Peraltas have been visiting Cebu and Isabela, the hometown of Rodrigo, every two years or so. But now, they have to visit once a year since Joy’s mother is sick.

And she said they look forward to experiencing the Terminal 2 every time they visit.

They did not know that Terminal 2 would be operating yesterday and they ended up going to the old Terminal. Fortunately, shuttle buses provided by GMCAC ferried them to the new terminal.

For 20-year old Samara Gatly, Terminal 2 was “very pretty,”

“It’s very pretty. They also had a lot of giveaways. The architecture and decorations are very nice. I’ve been to other international airports, and this one is smaller but definitely prettier,” she told CDN.

Although an American citizen, Gatly has been living in Japan with her American husband for the last four months.

She was among the passengers of the second flight to depart from the Terminal 2, Cebu Pacific Flight 5J5062 bound for Narita Airport in Japan at 5:30 a.m.

Gatly was traveling alone in the Philippines.

She spent the last week in Manila where she visited malls and a beach.

She was only in Cebu for a layover since her preferred flight back to Japan involved having to fly from Manila to Cebu.

“I was not able to explore Cebu but I hope I can next time. I’ve heard a lot about Cebu. I’ll definitely come back,” she said.

Flagship project

Inaugurated by President Rodrigo Duterte last June 7, the MCIA Terminal 2 is one of the government’s flagship projects under its Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.

With its unique design of undulating, wooden roofs, the Terminal 2 is envisioned to demonstrate the “warmth and friendliness” of the local culture, place, and people.

It was designed by Hong Kong-based architectural firm Integrated Design Associates Ltd. together with Filipino designers, including Cebu’s Kenneth Cobonpue.

Terminal 2 spans 65,600 square meters and is the dedicated terminal for all international flights departing from and arriving to Cebu.

It is expected to increase MCIA’s current passenger capacity to 12.5 million a year.

Considered as the central gateway to the Visayas and Southern Philippines, MCIA is the second largest airport facility in the country.

It has a total of 23 international destinations, 33 domestic destinations and 26 partner airline carriers.

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