Viva Macau receives clearance for take-off

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 2006, 12:00am

Viva Macau was approved for take-off yesterday after the city's aviation officials awarded south China's newest carrier exclusive rights to 15 international destinations from the former Portuguese colony.

Completion of the sub-concession agreement after eight months of talks with state regulators put the carrier on course to launch its first regional flights in June, with management touting airfares about 25 per cent lower than market rates.

'Macau is an increasingly popular travel destination and we are making a firm commitment: Viva Macau will be a key partner in driving our city's tourism growth,' president Ngan In Leng said.

About half of the destinations awarded to Viva Macau are believed to be outside Asia.

Chief executive Andrew Pyne said Viva Macau would begin with regional destinations in June. However, it also expected to fly to Europe and the Indian subcontinent before the end of the year.

'We are still looking at a June start but the exact timing depends on the availability of aircraft,' Mr Pyne said. 'I'd like to buy the newest generation of composite aircraft from Boeing or Airbus, but, with delivery slots not available until 2009, [they] are struggling to supply the interim lift to secure a multibillion-dollar order for 12 aircraft.'

He said the final deal would be finalised 'in days rather than weeks' with Viva Macau expected to offer tickets on the internet by the end of next month.