Travel restrictions to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) slashed by 40% cargo volume at Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) to 17.904 million kilograms (kg) in the first five months of the year from 29.685 million kg in the same period last year.
Domestic cargoes, which accounted for 75% of the total volume, decreased 41% to 13.412 million kg from 22.726 million kg, according to data from Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA).
Foreign cargoes declined at a slightly slower clip, at 35.4% to 4.492 million kg from 6.959 million kg.
Domestic and international airlines suspended flights out of the country’s second-busiest gateway in mid-March as the government implemented travel restrictions. Only repatriation and cargo flights were operational.
For April and May 2020—months when travel restrictions were fully in place—MCIA recorded only 1.433 million kg of domestic cargoes, an 81.7% contraction compared with the 7.813 million kg handled in the same period last year.
Foreign cargoes in April-May also recorded a huge drop of 90.4% to 286,334 kg from 2.995 million kg.
In terms of flights, MCIA serviced 23,567 flights in the first five months of the year, 47% less than 44,539 flights in the same period last year. Domestic flights fell 45.8% to 18,072 from 33,315 while international flights sank 51% to 5,495 from 11,224 last year.
For the same period in review, passenger traffic dropped 53.8% to 2.437 million passengers from 5.28 million. Domestic flight passengers decreased 52.6% to 1.686 million from 3.558 million and foreign passengers to 751,336 from 1.722 million, a decline of 56.4%.
A limited number of domestic commercial flights have resumed in MCIA last June 6 while international commercial flights remain restricted. MCIA earlier said it will soon be in a position to meet mandatory health screening requirements that will pave the way for the resumption of international flights this month.
MCIA concessionaire GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation earlier said it is ramping up preparations for the “new normal” travel experience at MCIA in adherence to the government’s guidelines intended to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
Among safety measures to be implemented at MCIA are the following:
- Compulsory use of face masks for all passengers and airport employees within the vicinity of Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and adjacent areas
- Mandatory body temperature checks for all passengers and airport employees by airport security staff using handheld thermal devices at all airport entry points while the Bureau of Quarantine (BoQ) will continuously monitor the body temperature of arriving passengers through thermal imaging systems.
- Hand sanitizing and shoe disinfection for all passengers and employees prior to terminal entry. Hand sanitizers and footbaths are provided at all entry points.
- Social distancing protocols which require three to six feet in queuing points and a one-seat-apart policy in waiting areas will be implemented. There will be visible floor markings to guide the passengers while queueing at high-traffic areas such as entry gates, ticketing booths, check-in counters, F&B and retail stores, boarding gates, escalators and stairs. Moreover, the use of the elevators will be regulated to conform to social distancing protocols.
- Airport procedures such as security checks and check-in will be modified to adopt “no-touch measures” to reduce any means of contact.
- Passengers will be asked to follow gradual aircraft boarding and disembarkation procedures to avoid any queue formation and congestion. All passengers and employees are reminded to always keep right when traversing walkways and lanes.
- Regular disinfection of passenger areas and terminal facilities such as escalators, elevators, stairways, passenger boarding bridges, restrooms, and items that are physically handled by passengers such as baggage trolleys and security trays at the security screening points will be regularly sanitized.
- Passenger areas such as departure boarding gates, arrival reclaim halls, and immigration passport control area will be disinfected at regular intervals.
- Additional alcohol-based hand sanitizers will be installed in public areas of the terminals for the use of passengers and airport employees. Moreover, liquid hand soap in all restrooms will be replaced with medical-grade handwash soap for thorough disinfection.
- A protective clear shield will be fitted and installed in all check-in counters to serve as a protective barrier between the passenger and the check-in agent.
- The isolated holding areas that have been in place since the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak will continue to be used as a medical isolation room where personnel from BoQ can conduct quarantine assessment.
- Health advisories based on guidance materials from the IATF, Department of Health, and the World Health Organization will be displayed in strategic locations to provide passengers with ample information on COVID-19. – Roumina Pablo