Venetian ferries cleared to resume

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 January, 2008, 12:00am

A Hong Kong-Macau ferry service controlled by US casino giant Las Vegas Sands may resume any day, after a Macau court lifted an injunction against its operations.

But a lawyer for Hong Kong North West Express, the ferry operator which won the injunction, said the legal battle was far from over.

The CotaiJet, or Cotai Waterjet, had been running for just 11 days between Sheung Wan and the newly opened Pac On temporary terminal near Sands' The Venetian Macao complex in Taipa, Macau, when services were suspended in December.

Stephen Weaver, Las Vegas Sands' Asia president, welcomed yesterday's ruling.

'As we expected, the court acted in an expeditious and prudent manner to consider the merits of the claim, and decided that the injunction should be removed. We are already in the process of returning the CotaiJet service to operation,' he said. CotaiJet's 400-seat catamarans had been sailing 20 times a day before the Court of Second Instance issued the injunction.

Hong Kong North West Express had been seeking a review of Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah's decision to grant Las Vegas Sands the right to operate a ferry service to and from Pac On.

It argued that Mr Ho's government had not conducted an open tendering process when awarding a licence to CotaiJet and Giant Dragon, a company run by Macau businessman Ng Fok.

The Macau authorities denied Hong Kong North West Express permission to run ferries from Tuen Mun in 2006.

Nuno Simoes, lawyer for Hong Kong North West Express, said it was too early for Las Vegas Sands to celebrate.

'We filed an appeal [in December] against the chief executive's decision to grant the licence. The court has yet to decide on the appeal,' he said.