The head of low-cost carrier Air Asia Tony Fernandes said on Wednesday that the airline will add five to six routes to Macau every year.
Speaking at the Pacific Asia Travel Association (FATA) Travel Youth, Summit Fernandes said he believes the Malaysian company could be able to carry almost 5 million passengers a year to Macau in the next five years.
“Air Asia is planning to add between 32 to 34 destinations to its Macau airline connections in the near future” Fernandes said in a interview with the local television – TDM.
“Macau is my number one priority in North Asia. It’s a natural place for us and we hope to add five to six new routes per year and really grow tourism here,” Fernandes said.
He also announced that in the next weeks Air Asia will start flying from Macau to Johor Bharu, a city in the south of Malaysia near the border with Singapore.
“We also have lots of plans for connections with the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Guam. This will help bring a greater variety of travellers to Macau since the city depends a lot on mainland China. It’s good to have different market pools in the world,” he added.
According to Fernandes, since Air Asia started flying to Macau in 2004, it has carried 8 million people to the city, with the airline currently operating 64 weekly flights to Macau and carrying more than 800,000 people a year.
Air Asia represented 11 percent of the airline market in Macau, but 26 percent if Mainland China is not included. “I believe we can grow that to 50 per cent of the market over the next five years,” he said.
In 2016, the 220 planes from Air Asia carried around 56.6 million passengers, 12 percent more than in the previous year, with Fernandes saying that the company had a large focus in countries from Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
“Our playground is ASEAN where 700 million people live. We want to make ASEAN a smaller place and from there reach destinations in North Asia, including Macau,” he said.
According to Mr. Fernandes, 19 percent of Air Asia’s revenue comes from mainland China, with the company flying to 21 destinations with “most not having previous connectivity with ASEAN”.
The group is now planning to establish Air Asia Japan in a “few weeks”, Air Asia Vietnam in 2018 and Air Asia China in 2019.
Fernandes said that he will meet Macau International Airport Co. Ltd. (CAM) to discuss the airline plans for Macau.