MORE Korean air carriers resumed their direct flights to Korea from Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) this July after over two years of economic pinch due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With the return of direct flights to Korea and other international flights, this gives positive signals to the recovery of the travel and aviation sector. Hopefully, this will also lead to the further recovery of the tourism industry, especially with Cebu being chosen recently as one of the Best Islands in the World by Travel + Leisure,” Louie Ferrer, president of GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC), was quoted as saying in a statement published by aviation data provider Routesonline.

Daily flights from Cebu to Incheon are serviced by Korean Air, Jin Air, T’way and Jeju Air, while flights to Busan also resume service by Jin Air and Air Busan.

Local carrier Cebu Pacific Air also started flights from Cebu to Incheon. South Korea is the first international destination that the airline is restarting from its Cebu hub.

Other international destinations have also been added with Singapore Airlines, Scoot and Cebu Pacific serving Singapore. Cathay Pacific resumed its Hong Kong flights while T’Way also resumed its Daegu flights. EVA Air also revived its passenger service to Taipei.

Tourism stakeholders in Cebu are optimistic about their recovery this year as the Philippines welcomed back fully vaccinated foreign travelers starting February.

Domestic routes

Meanwhile, local carriers have also increased their flight frequencies following the continuous ramp-up of their domestic route capacity.

Philippine Airlines has daily flights to Manila, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Caticlan, Iloilo, Tacloban and Siargao while Cebu Pacific services daily flights to Manila, Camiguin, Davao, Dumaguete, Busuanga and Butuan. Flights to Cagayan de Oro, Bacolod, Clark, General Santos, Caticlan, Iloilo, Ozamis, Puerto Princesa, Tacloban, Siargao and Zamboanga also increased. AirAsia, on the other hand, added four daily flights to Manila and flights to Caticlan.

The domestic traffic at MCIA has already returned to 70 percent of its pre-pandemic level, while the international traffic ramping up since May is expected to achieve its pre-pandemic levels by the end of the second quarter in 2023.