TOP DESTINATION. The delegates from Daegu, South Korea pose with officials and staff of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) at the airport lobby shortly after their arrival on board the maiden Daegu-Cebu flight of Jeju Air on Tuesday (Sept. 17, 2019). The GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC), the private operator of the MCIA, said the Daegu flights will boost Cebu’s edge as top destination for international visitors. (Photo contributed by Avigael M. Ratcliffe/GMCAC)
CEBU CITY — Additional flights from the South Korean city of Daegu arriving at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) will boost Cebu’s edge as top destination for international visitors, the airport management on Monday said.
The GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) welcomed last Tuesday (Sept. 17) Jeju Air’s inaugural flight from Daegu City in North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea.
The flight carrying 173 passengers arrived at the Mactan airport at 11:15 p.m. The aircraft was hailed with a water cannon salute by the airport officials.
Louie Ferrer, president of GMCAC, thanked the airlines for choosing Cebu as next destination of their future flights carrying Koreans who would like to visit Cebu.
“We are glad to welcome Jeju Air’s inaugural flight from Daegu and we thank them for expanding their network in Cebu,” Ferrer said in a statement.
Ferrer led other officials from the MCIA’s private operator, GMCAC, along with the representatives from Jeju Air and the Department of Tourism (DOT) in Central Visayas, in greeting the arriving passengers “with warm smiles, colorful leis, and Cebu’s sweet dried mangoes.”
The Asian market, Ferrer said, continues to be among the strongest in Cebu, with Koreans comprising 42.5 percent of international visitors in 2018.
They were followed by Japan and China at 16 percent and 11 percent, respectively.
DOT announced that South Korea continues to be the Philippines top tourist market for the first half of this year. This was followed by China, while Japan ranked fourth.
“We continue to work on opening more connections to Cebu from our Asian neighbors. Cebu’s central location is highly strategic, with most domestic tourist destinations only an hour’s flying time or less,” Ferrer said.
“Our goal is to establish MCIA as a hub for flights to the Philippines and even (to) other Asian countries,” he added.
Jeju Air also started the operation of its direct service from MCIA to Daegu on September 18, 2019 at 1:15 a.m.
The statement further said the carrier will operate the Cebu-Daegu route four times weekly every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. For this route, Jeju Air will use Boeing 737-800 with a passenger capacity of 189 all-economy seats.
Keunwoo Lee, station manager of Jeju Air, expressed delight in seeing Cebu by himself.
“We are thrilled to grow our network in MCIA because we see Cebu as a bustling city, yet it still has many scenic tourist spots which entices the Korean travelers,” Lee said.
Daegu is the fourth destination in South Korea operated by Jeju Air. Currently, Jeju Air also flies to Incheon, Pusan, and Muan.
Meanwhile, Korean low-cost carrier T’Way Air also operates a Cebu-Daegu direct service which started in December 2016.
“South Korea is a favorite leisure destination for many Filipinos. By launching this direct service, Jeju Air is offering more options for Filipinos to explore new and exciting destinations in South Korea,” GMCAC Chief Commercial Advisor Ravishankar Saravu said.
The MCIA is currently connected to 28 domestic destinations and 23 international destinations with nine Philippine-based and 17 foreign airline partners.
Daegu is known for the Daegu Yangnyeongsi Oriental Medicine Cultural Center that traces the history of local medical traditions.John Rey Saavedra/PNA- northboundasia.com