Air Macau gets 3-year conditional extension of monopoly
Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário said on Wednesday that a three-year period will be a suitable length of time for the local government’s extension of Air Macau’s monopoly, which was originally slated to expire early next month, adding that Macao’s civil aviation sector is going through a “very difficult” time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rosário made the remarks while speaking to reporters at the Macao Cultural Centre (CCM) in Nape after attending yesterday’s ceremony marking the formal commencement of the Judicial Year 2020/21.
Macao’s flag carrier Air Macau has been granted a three-year conditional extension of its exclusive concession by the local government, according to Wednesday’s Official Gazette (BO).
A brief extract of the agreement was published by the Financial Services Bureau (DSF) in the Official Gazette on Wednesday, according to which the extension takes effect on 9 November.
According to the air transport public service concession agreement’s first clause cited by the extract, the exclusive concession will be valid for three years, or until the day a new legal system on a competition-based concession system for Macao’s air transport takes effect during the three-year period.
The Macao Civil Aviation Authority (AACM) announced two years ago that it was planning to liberalise Macao’s passenger air concession system. However, the local government said in May that Air Macau’s monopoly concession would be extended for three years as the respective legislation still needed to be amended, and also in order to ensure the stability of the civil aviation sector which has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Air Macau’s 25-year monopoly was first granted in March 1995, when Macao was still under Portuguese administration.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Macao Civil Aviation Authority (AACM) said that it expected Macao’s civil aviation sector to take a long time to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. During the period, it was necessary to maintain the stability of the sector, the statement said, adding that the Macao government has decided to extend Air Macau’s exclusive concession for three years, so as to ensure that the airline will continue to provide a continuous and stable passenger air service for local residents and visitors.
When asked by the media on Wednesday about the government’s decision to extend Air Macau’s monopoly for three years, Rosário said that a period of three years would be suitable for the government to constantly assess and monitor the development of Macao’s civil aviation sector in line with the ongoing changes in the COVID-19 pandemic. “A period of three years is neither long nor short,” the policy secretary said, urging residents to be “patient”.
Rosário said that for the time being the government was not able to predict how long the “very difficult” time of Macao’s civil aviation sector would last amid the still serious COVID-19 pandemic. “[Very] few aeroplanes are operating, and there are [very] few air passengers and visitors,” the policy secretary said.
Air Macau is majority-owned by Air China, with minority shareholders including STDM and the Macao government.
The airline operates a network covering destinations predominantly in North Asia, mainland China and Taiwan in particular. Air Macau uses a fleet of narrow-body Airbus aircraft.
Meanwhile, Rosário also admitted on Wednesday that the government has still not decided on whether it will build a flood protection wall along the waterfront in the Inner Harbour area, as the project would involve complicated technical issues that have still not been resolved.
The government said a few years ago that it planned to build a flood protection wall running from Barra to Lam Mau Tong district near the Patane Market Municipal Complex.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
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