Viva sees beyond Southeast Asia sky
Fledgling airline says it will target routes in India, Vancouver and Moscow as it waits for an operator's certificate to fly
Viva Macau will expand its route network to destinations outside Southeast Asia by the second quarter of next year,
South China's newest budget carrier has announced plans to offer flights to India and North America.
The air operator, which anticipates the launch of its first commercial flight in September from the former Portuguese enclave, was looking at Vancouver, Moscow and two as-yet-unspecified cities in India for its second-stage start, chief executive Andrew Pyne said.
Its first aircraft emerged from the maintenance hangar in Mexico last week and the airline awaits approval of its Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) before taking to the skies.
'The second set of destinations will be more difficult from an aero-political point of view which is why we have set the target dates for six months after launch,' Mr Pyne said yesterday. 'We expect to have our AOC application completed in early September and to commence operations by the third week.'
While they will be operating from different markets, Viva Macau and rival fledging air operator Hong Kong Oasis Airlines are in a closely watched race to be the first South China-based budget carrier to make a commercial flight.
Oasis stole the headlines earlier this month with promises of GBP75 ($1,083) one-way flights to London beginning in the third quarter.
The first flights for Viva Macau, which is promising to offer tickets at 30 per cent below market rates, are expected to be to Jakarta, Indonesia and Male, the capital of the Maldives.
Other destinations in the Philippines, Thailand - probably Phuket - and Malaysia are on the cards before the carrier acquires its third B767 aircraft and turns its attention to medium and long-haul destinations.
Moscow is an attractive potential market largely because the Russians do not need visas to visit Macau, said Mr Pyne, the former head of international affairs for Cathay Pacific.
Viva Macau, which is expected to start selling tickets to Male and Jakarta in August, is majority held by a group of prominent Macau businessmen led by local entrepreneur Ngan In Leng.
It has paid-up capital of US$25 million and is evaluating bids from institutional investors, some of which are thought to be from Japan where it just signed a general sales agent to represent it.
An announcement in regard to institutional partners is expected 'in about two weeks', Mr Pyne said.
The Macau government is renegotiating its air service agreement with Japan, a development which could expand opportunities for Macau's airlines in one of Asia's premier markets.
Carrier expects to launch first flight in early September
Early flights likely to be Jakarta and Male, capital of the Maldives
Racing HK Oasis Airlines to be South China's first budget flyer