You'll be pleasantly surprised by air travel in the Philippines. Unlike many other banana republics, we have a deregulated air transportation sector and competition has raised standards, providing the traveler with plenty of choice. There are two big airlines and a bunch of smaller ones.

Currently, almost all air travel in Cebu goes through Mactan International Airport. We Cebuanos are very proud of our airport but by international standards it's a smallish airport with bare-bones facilities. Departing passengers are subject to an airport tax, which is PhP 550 at the international terminal and PhP 100 at the domestic terminal.

Security is pretty good and we haven't had any terrorist attacks at the airport (or anywhere else) so far (knock on wood!). The airport police can be distinguished by their unique brown uniforms and spend most of their time shooing cars away from the exits of the international and domestic terminals.

Wa'y Blima! Cebu has the best searchable online Flight Guide for Cebu and the Philippines. Airlines, please send us your schedule updates and modifications via email.

In addition to Mactan International, we have a number of small airports around the province, though these are largely grass strips with a few landing lights (which may not be in working order). There's an airport in San Francisco, on the Camotes Islands, and also in Santa Fe, on Bantayan. This one actually serves scheduled flights as many tourists frequent Bantayan. The Philippine Tourism Authority operates a small airport in Argao, and Toledo City has two airports - one owned by Atlas Mining and one in Sangi, a small village about a mile to the north of Toledo City proper. But most even most Cebuanos don't know that these tiny airports exist.

The national flag carrier is Philippine Airlines, or PAL. This 800-pound gorilla of air transportation in the Philippines competes well internationally, but is being upstaged domestically by smaller upstarts. The advantages Philippine Airlines offer are (a) their fleet of relatively new jets, and (b) the fact that you can book and buy tickets online. But just about every other PAL flight is delayed, often by hours, and while I would encourage you to fly PAL on your trip to the Philippines, try to avoid them within the country unless you like spending time stranded at airport terminals.

Giving Philippine Airlines some serious competition are Cebu Pacific, a low-cost airline which has grown explosively thanks to efficient management and good marketing. Cebu Pacific flights are almost always on time. Just a few years ago some travelers would avoid Cebu Pacific because their jets were second-hand machines from - judging by the Slavic language of the No Smoking signs - some Eastern European country, but they have recently been putting their well-deserved profits into brand new aircraft. One of Cebu Pacific's cute gimmicks is that on weekends and holidays the cabin crew wear specially designed Adidas uniforms. Cebu Pacific now even operate flights to Hong Kong and South Korea.

The other domestic airlines with national networks are Air Philippines, Asian Spirit, and Seair. Asian Spirit and Cebu-based Seair operate fairly small propeller aircraft, and fly mostly to tertiary destinations not covered by PAL, Cebu Pacific, or Air Philippines.

In case no flights to your destination are available, you could always hire a plane; it costs far less in the Philippines. In addition to the smaller airlines which avail their aircraft for charter hire, there are several companies offering charter services in Cebu, but only one worth dealing with. A Japanese pilot, Captain Ishida, runs an outfit called TopFlite Airways (Phone: +63-32-340-9314, Fax: +63-32-340-9345). Last time we checked he had three small planes. You could also ask them to take you for an aerial tour of Cebu, which we highly recommend if the weather is nice.

Here is the contact data of some airlines with flights to the Philippines. Those international airlines with logos at right serve Cebu Mactan International Airport. Note that, while the contact data for the domestic airlines is given separately in the Flight Guide, some of the domestic airlines also fly to international destinations.

ASIANA AIRLINES +63-2-892-5702, +63-2-892-5681/8, (Manila) +63-2-891-6125 (Manila Airport)
ASIANA AIRLINES +63-2-892-5702, +63-2-892-5681/8, (Manila) +63-2-891-6125 (Manila Airport)
JAPAN AIRLINES +63-2-886-6868 (Manila)
KOREAN AIR +63-32-253-1753
MALAYSIA AIRLINES +63-32-231-3887, +63-32-232-0905; Export Bank Building, Gorordo Avenue, Lahug
MANDARIN AIRLINES +63-32-253-1682
NORTHWEST AIRLINES +63-32-232-2401; G/F, The QC Pavillion, Gorordo Avenue, Lahug
QATAR AIRWAYS +63-32-232-1000; FAX +63-32-231-8922; G/F, The QC Pavillion, Gorordo Avenue, Lahug
SILKAIR +63-32-232-6211, +63-32-340-0043, +63-32-340-0042; Suite 302, Cebu Holdings Center, Cebu Business Park, Cebu City
SINGAPORE AIRLINES +63-32-232-6211, +63-32-340-0043, +63-32-340-0042; Suite 302, Cebu Holdings Center, Cebu Business Park, Cebu City

MACTAN-CEBU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - Cebu's gateway to the world.

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