Macau, an administrative region of the Peoples Republic of China, is a territory situated approximately 60 kilometres south west of Hong Kong. Macau has one active international airport - Macau International Airport (MFM) - located at the eastern end of Taipa Island. MFM used to serve as a transit hub for flights between Mainland China and Taiwan, but due to the introduction of nonstop flights between the two regions, passenger traffic in this regard has lessened. Macau International Airport is the hub for Macau’s flag carrier Air Macau, which is partly owned by China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) and the Government of Macau. Civil Aviation Authority of Macau is the body responsible for overseeing and regulating the air traffic in the region.
Airports in Macau
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Thai Airways has again adjusted the strategy of its new hybrid unit Thai Smile as the group struggles to determine the ultimate product mix and network. The latest changes include a dedicated business class cabin, which will be introduced in 2013 following delivery of Thai Smile’s seventh A320, and plans to convert the unit into a full subsidiary. Thai Smile also continues to tweak its network, dropping earlier plans to launch services from Bangkok to Hyderabad and Phuket to Singapore.
As Thai Smile represents an experiment for Thai Airways and the overall Asian market, it is not surprising to see almost continual changes to the operation. But all the changes reflect flaws in Thai Smile’s initial business model, which falls between low-cost and full-service. Thai Smile will likely evolve from a hybrid into more of a pure full-service regional subsidiary similar to Singapore Airlines’ SilkAir and Cathay Pacific’s Dragonair.
New Thai Airways unit Thai Smile is gearing up to launch services on 07-Jul-2012 following a unique hybrid model aimed at allowing it to compete against LCCs at the back while meeting the needs of premium passengers, including those connecting from Thai-operated flights, with a light premium economy type of product at the front. Thai Smile’s initial network will feature a mix of new destinations for the Thai Airways Group and existing destinations, where the new carrier will look to supplement existing Thai Airways-operated service.
Thai Smile’s first destination, Macau, will be international but managing director Woranate Laprabang tells CAPA that about 30% of the new carrier’s capacity will be allocated to domestic routes. Mr Laprabang now expects to be managing a 20-aircraft all-narrowbody operation by the end of 2015.
China’s aviation market is poised for a memorable year in 2012, as Beijing likely eclipses Atlanta as the world’s busiest airport (expected in 2H2012) and double-digit traffic growth rates return. Chinese carriers are expected to report a 10% increase in passenger traffic this year to 320 million passengers, according to industry regulator, the CAAC, following growth of 9.2% in 2011.
Some 21 airports in China handled more than 10 million passengers in 2011, five more than 2010 – and more are expected to join the ‘10 million+ club’ in 2012. Eight Chinese airports handled more than 20 million passengers last year. 10 years ago, Beijing was the only Mainland Chinese airport handling over 20 million passengers (with 24.2 million passengers in 2001), while Guangzhou Baiyun and Shanghai Hongqiao (both with 13.8 million passengers) were the only two other airports in China with over 15 million annual passengers.
Air Macau shareholders this month approved a second capital restructuring of the carrier as part of which the Macau SAR Government will inject around MOP700 million (USD87.5 million) into the flag carrier. The government noted its objective was to help Air Macau in “upgrading herself" to support the development of Macau to become the “world alluring centre of tourism and leisure”. After this second capital increase, the Macau SAR Government will be the second largest shareholder in the airline after Air China.
Macau's aviation market has struggled since 2007 under a strategic, political and operational stalemate, which has seen the collapse of one of its two airlines and a sizeable contraction in air passenger and cargo numbers. However, interest in Macau is picking up again, as new LCCs emerge in North Asia, namely Korea and Japan. Foreign LCCs and Macau-China Mainland traffic is now driving traffic. Overall, 2011 is expected to be a year of stabilisation for Macau, as it begins to claw back some of the lost ground of the past few years. However, growth will likely remain moderate for the foreseeable future.
Macau's aviation market has struggled since 2007 under a strategic, political and operational stalemate, which has seen the collapse of one of its two airlines and a sizeable contraction in air passenger and cargo numbers. However, interest in Macau is picking up again, as new LCCs emerge in North Asia, namely Korea and Japan. Foreign LCCs and Macau-China Mainland traffic is now driving traffic. The Jetstar Group has even identified Macau as a potential hub option. Overall, 2011 is expected to be a year of stabilisation for Macau, as it begins to claw back some of the lost ground of the past few years. However, growth will likely remain moderate for the foreseeable future.
Asian aviation is growing strongly, with airlines expanding their seating capacity by 7.4% this month, well ahead of the global 6% increase, according to Innovata. The Indian Subcontinent is leading the Asian charge, while China is surprisingly down in 18th place in terms of Asian growth rates, with just a 5.2% increase in seats (domestic and international) this month.