Limited room to develop international flights at the moment – Civil Aviation Authority

The head of the Civil Aviation Authority of Macao SAR (AACM), Simon Chan, has indicated that currently there is currently ‘limited room’ for the Macau International Airport (MIA) to develop international flights under the general environment of normalized pandemic prevention and control.

The comments are included in an announcement following a meeting between Chan, the MIA Executive Directors and the Directors of Civil Aviation Administration of China Air Traffic Management Bureau to discuss the role of the local airport in the Greater Bay Area project.

Last month Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng held a meeting with the Ambassador of the State of Qatar to China, Mohamed Abdulla Al-Dehaimi, to discuss how to facilitate the movement of people between Macau and Qatar and the launch of regular flights between both places.

However, so far the AACM has indicated that it has yet to receive any application for passenger flight routes between the two regions.

Previously talks to establish a Macau-Istanbul route via Turkish Airlines, which would connect the SAR to the main travel hub, also fell through.

The company responsible for operating the Macau International Airport has reported some MOP462 million in income for 2020, a 75 per cent year-on-year drop, as the pandemic seriously disrupted travel to and from the SAR.

In total, MIA handled 16,962 aircraft movements in 2020 a year-on-year decrease of 78 per cent, with passenger numbers falling by 88 per cent to 1.17 million.

Chan noted during the meeting that it is necessary to ‘press ahead’ to review the progress of the airport’s master plan and promote the in-depth and coordinated development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area in accordance with the national outline development plan.

‘In particular, the implementation of tripartite coordination on air traffic control is emphasized to be facilitated under the premise of ensuring the normal operation of Macau International Airport,’ the AACM head noted.

‘It is also hoped that communication and cooperation with the Mainland air traffic control authorities will be further strengthened while believed that the airports in the GBA can develop at their respective regional advantages in the future’

According to MIA Executive Director, Chu Tan Neng, the widespread vaccination and the long term anti-pandemic measures of different countries’ governments are believed to be able to help in the recovery of the civil aviation industry of Macau.

However, he warned that with the improvement of the pandemic and the recovery of the civil aviation industry, the shortage of airspace resources in the Bay Area will once again appear.

As of March a total of 13 airlines linked Macau to 24 destinations, mostly in mainland China.

The local airport is currently carrying out optimization works for its facilities and equipment, with the main structure of the South Extension of Passenger Terminal Building officially topped out and the building expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Upon completion, the new terminal building will increase yearly capacity from 7.8 million to 10 million passengers.