Air Macau ready to soar

26 October 2000

Preparing for a future which may see direct China-Taiwan air links, a move that will undermine its China hub strategy, Air Macau is fast-tracking plans to fly to Europe and Australia.

Said Dominic Ching, market development manager, “We are now more inclined to fly to Europe, in particular, Frankfurt and we are looking for partnerships with major European carriers through code share or pro-rate agreement.”

The airline had planned to launch Frankfurt services this year but put it off due to the economic crisis.

“The crisis affected Taiwan adversely, which in turn affected our revenues,” said Ching.

The airline is also looking for a wide-bodied aircraft (dry or wet lease) to enhance its existing network, particularly on the Taipei to Xiamen route which runs at more than 80 percent load factor, said Ching. It has a fleet of eight aircraft, comprising A321s and A320s but operates a fleet of seven. One aircraft is leased out and will be returned next year, said Ching.

According to Ching, up to 50 percent of Air Macau’s business comes from traffic originating from Taiwan and connecting to mainland Chinese points.

It is a niche market that has boosted the airline as well as the Macau International Airport (MIA).

Of the six million throughput passengers that use the MIA, at least 50 percent are connecting to China flights, said Ching, adding that Air Macau had a 48 percent share of the airport.

Of that through traffic, he noted that about half went on to China right away while the rest stayed a day or so in Macau. In a world of global alliances, Ching said there was always room for a niche carrier “as long as the niche demand exists”.

“We will not stay a niche carrier forever when Taiwan and China have direct air links,” he said.

“The first immediate thing we have to do is develop a regional network and build Macau as an alternative hub to China.

“We see Macau as a satellite airport for Hong Kong and we expect the economic development in the Pearl River Delta to double in the next few years.

“Therefore, air travel demand will increase and there will be room for us to grow and there will be a role for us to play to meet that growing demand.”

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