Macau and Taiwan officials inked Monday a new agreement for flights between the two places that replaces a previous arrangement signed between unofficial entities.
The new pact also lifts previous limits on the number of flights between the two sides.
Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Macau Director Lu Chang-shui and Macau Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan Director Leong Kit Chi signed the accord on behalf of their respective governments in the Macau Cultural Centre in Nape.
In the previous accord originally signed in 1995, there were limits on the number of flights allowed between Macau and Taiwan . The accord was renewed several times over the last two decades. Although the limits on the number of flights were raised they were not completely removed.
The 1995 accord was signed between Air Macau and the Taipei Airlines Association. Initially, it allowed only two airlines from either side to operate flights between Macau and Taipei and Kaohsiung .
Currently, there are regular flights between Macau and Taipei and Kaohsiung , by Air Macau, Eva Air and TransAsia Airways. Regular flights between Macau and Taichung are being operated in the form of “chartered flights”, by Eva Air, TransAsia Airways and Mandarin Airlines.
Under the new agreement, limits on the number of flights between Macau and Taipei and Macau and Kaohsiung have been completely removed. In addition, apart from the “chartered flights” to Taichung , possible flights between Macau and Hualien, Taitung, Magong, Kinmen, Tainan and Chiayi have been included.
According to the new accord, the “chartered flights” to the seven Taiwan cities are to be regulated in the same way as regular flights.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Macau Civil Aviation Authority (AACM) President Chan Weng Hong said that under the new accord both Macau and Taiwan can make unilateral decisions on which airlines are allowed to operate Macau-Taiwan flights to different cities in the island.
Chan said that so far there were no new airlines from either place showing an interest in operating Macau-Taiwan flights, adding that after the signing of the new accord airlines would need time to make their business plans. “I believe if airlines see there is a market which they consider worthwhile options, they will be willing to invest”, he was quoted by The Macau Post Daily as saying.
When asked by reporters if the new accord would have an adverse impact on the current market, Chan said that as more and more airlines were expected enter the market the number of flights would increase, which in turn would encourage greater numbers of residents in Macau and Taiwan to travel more often, which would then enlarge the market size.
Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration Vice Director Lee Wan-lee said that the new accord would mean the liberalisation of the airline market for Macau-Taiwan flights so that it would allow more airlines to operate in addition to the current four companies, adding that it would provide travellers with more choices of flights between Macau and the island.
Lee said he expected the new agreement to lead to cheaper Macau-Taiwan flight. “Citizens in both places will benefit because they will be able to buy tickets from other airlines if rival companies’ flights are too expensive”, he said.
The new agreement will take effect after both sides completed their own administrative procedures and exchanged the their respective documents.(macaunews)