South Korea and Taiwan viable exit options for Macau passengers

For any traveller currently needing to leave Macau to reach any destination outside the Asian continent, and without having to go into a lengthy quarantine, more questions than answers are provided at this moment concerning possible available airline routes.

Daily updates and announcements about Covid-19 related travel restrictions are plenty and diverse, making it hard for people in Macau to have a clear understanding of the measures implemented in the various countries and regions where they might need to travel to.

The special ferry service between Macau and the Hong Kong International Airport was terminated on July 16 and without plans for a new exit window, people stranded in the SAR wanting to leave now have to look for available flights departing from the local airport instead.

According to information provided to Macau News Agency by Macau International Airport Co. Ltd. (CAM) the following destinations were available to local passengers in July:

Mainland China – flights to Xiamen, Chengdu, Nanning and Beijing operated by Air Macau

Taiwan – flights to Taipei operated by Air Macau, EVA and Starlux

Japan – flights to Tokyo and Osaka operated by Air Macau

Cambodia – flights to Sihanoukville by Cambodia Airways and Lanmei Airlines and to Phnom Penh operated by Cambodia Angkor Air

Vietnam – flights to Hanoi operated by Air Macau

South Korea – flights to Seoul-Incheon operated by Air Macau.

However, with the current restrictions imposed by Chinese authorities on foreign residents holding visas for the country, only local residents holding Chinese passports would be able to use travel to Mainland China in transit for other destinations.

According to a statement sent by the Tourism Crisis Management Office (GGCT) to MNA, Taiwan, South Korea or Japan are currently the only countries with routes available in the SAR that allow passengers to transit to connecting flight without restrictions.

The GGCT also suggested that anyone intending to fly out of Macau to contact a travel agency, since these three jurisdictions have specific requirements for transfer/transit passengers and not all possible routes will be shown on the most commonly used search engines. 

‘When in doubt, those planning to make use of the Macau Airport should contact the airlines as well as the final and transfer/transit destinations’ Consulates or Embassies as requirements and restrictions may change rapidly,’ the department told MNA.

First, in order to be allowed to board any plane, anyone departing the city will have to present a valid Covid-19 nucleic acid test taken within the past 7 days before boarding, with tests having to be booked through the local Health Bureau.

According to information checked by MNA, a possible option at the moment would likely be the Taoyuan airport in Taipei, as current regulations in the island allow passengers to transit through the airport for a connecting flight within eight hours operated by the same carrier group.

Therefore EVA Air would be the only option, as the Taiwanese carrier operates flights from Macau to Taipei, and provides options to several destinations in Europe and North America.

According to its website, the airline currently offers flights to Paris (Charles de Gaulle) London (Heathrow), Vienna and Amsterdam in Europe,  with flight also available to Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle and San Francisco in the US;  Vancouver and Toronto in Canada; and Brisbane in Australia.

Air Macau also operates flights to Seoul, South Korea, and according to information provided to MNA by the Incheon International Airport, passengers also do not face the new quarantine requirement but will receive a temperature screening and health questionnaire.

Any passenger transiting in Korea must have a confirmed connecting ticket and transit within 24 hours.

Another possible option at the moment would also be the Narita Airport in Japan and the Kansai International Airport in Osaka – routes operated by Air Macau – with Japanese tourism authorities indicating to MNA that they allow passengers to transit on the same calendar day.

Through Narita Airport international flights to departing to Russia, Australia, United Arab Emirates, United States, India, Turkey and many European cities are still available.

However, when contacted by MNA, Air Macau indicated that in August only has flights coming from Tokyo to Macau planned and not the other way around, with the local airline also indicating it could not guarantee there would be flights to the Japanese capital in September.

The same issue arose for its Osaka route, with an Air Macau representative indicating that no Macau-Osaka flights were planned for the next months.

Local foreign passengers can also attempt to different combinations of flights to reach airports in Japan, Taiwan and South Korea via other cities in the region, however, this could prove more costly and be riskier in terms of health or quarantine restrictions.

In any case, passengers wanting to travel from Macau to destinations outside Asia will still have to be in constant communication with travel agencies, airline and consulates to keep updated with new policies or flight cancellation or changes.

Updated travel and country policies can also be consulted at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website.

[This article intends to provide a reference on possible options for international travel. Country policies and airport requirements could suffer changes]