Wanderlust | Transformation of Mactan-Cebu International Airport

Since its press and industry previews last summer down to the start of its commercial operations last Sunday, July 1, the new Mactan-Cebu International Airport’s Terminal 2 has been touted as the “best airport in the country” and the world’s first resort airport, with Mactan Island as the Queen City of the South’s gateway to many beach destinations.

“From the start, we envisioned MCIA T2 with a distinct design that will showcase the warmth and friendliness of Cebu’s culture,” said Aines Librodo, head of airline marketing and tourism development of GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation.

GMR-Megawide is Filipino-led consortium tasked to manage the terminal operations and other related concerns of the MCIA.

The new T2 has floor area of 65,000 square meters, dedicated to serve international flights and has the capacity to accommodate 4.5 million more passengers. It increases MCIA’s current passenger capacity to a minimum of 12.5 million passengers annually.

“What makes T2 unique is our wooden ceiling roofs shaped to mimic the waves of Cebu’s beaches. The wood is called Glulam timber, which we imported from Austria. It is known to be 20% stronger than steel and has a lifespan of 100 years,” added Librodo.

A structurally engineered wood element, glulam is commonly used for beams and columns with long spans framing signature designs usually left exposed to showcase the wood’s natural aesthetic.

“It has to be polished but every 50 years to continually cure the wood. There are no live plants or fresh flowers allowed inside T2 to prevent termites and worms,” she revealed.

Facade of the new MCIA T2

Facade of the new MCIA T2

The airport’s design is a collaborative work of interior designer Budji Layug, architect Royal Pineda, internationally renowned Cebuano furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, and Hong Kong-based architectural firm Integrated Design Associates Ltd.

Another unique feature of the airport is its granite floor. “We embedded it with mother of pearls so that when hits the floor, it glistens. It somewhat reminds you of the white sand beaches of the island,” she said.

At present, T2 has 40 check-in counters in 4 islands/lanes with 12 counters each, or a total of 48 counters.


“If traffic increases (forecast to surge in the next 3-5 years), it can be expanded to 72 counters. We can still handle more by constructing another island,” Librodo said.

Various companies also collaborated to come up with the design of the counters.

“We made use of a marble-like material from Giardini de Soleil, with the mesh, a synthetic rattan, supplied by Dedon. We purposely made the counters low to make dealings with passengers more personal,” she said.

T2 has also allotted 20 service counters for government agencies to process terminal fees, cargoes, among others.

As for security and convenience, T2 has eliminated the initial x-ray at the entrance.

“We want convenience to the passengers since we found out that very few passengers bring in prohibited stuff for check in, so why penalize rest of the passengers?,” she divulged.

3.Visayas and Mindanao media invited by Cebu Pacific for the MCIA T2 familiarization tour

3. Visayas and Mindanao media invited by Cebu Pacific for the MCIA T2 familiarization tour

Instead, T2 employed in-line baggage system to screen them after the passenger check-in and drop their bags at the counter. “The inline screening has 5 levels of x-ray security check.  If found to carry prohibited materials, the belt sorts and switches the baggage to another belt, taking it to a separate lane. Then a security officer will prompt the owner of the baggage regarding the situation,” Librodo explained.

T2 also boasts of a 3,000 sq.m. of leasable space for retail, dining and recreation. Currently, it has several cafes and restaurants, spa, airport lounges and a walk-through Duty Free Shopping. For easy movement of passengers, it is also equipped with 12 escalators and 15 elevators strategically located all throughout the area.

At present, MCIA serves a total of 23 international and 33 domestic flights from 26 partner airline carriers. Its current expansion with T2 is not only enhancing the passenger experience but also helping change their impression of Philippine airports to a positive.



Posted in Lifestyle