Macau ferry company goes bust

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 September, 2011, 12:00am
 

Start-up ferry operator Macao Dragon has filed for bankruptcy, blaming the Macau government for failing to issue it adequate quotas for the number of passengers it is allowed to carry on the popular Hong Kong-Macau route.

The cash-strapped company is also being pursued by the Hong Kong Marine Department for HK$1.88 million in unpaid berthing fees and passenger embarking fees.

Macao Dragon launched its low-cost ferry services in January last year after waiting four years for the Macau government to issue it a licence.

The firm said last night it was ceasing operations, effective immediately. It has appointed Deloitte as provisional liquidators.

The company said its business became economically unfeasible after the Macau government slashed the number of passengers it was permitted to carry by 35 per cent.

The government issued Macao Dragon a licence entitling it to carry 1,152 passengers per vessel in January last year, but then the Macau Maritime Administration imposed a cap of 750 passengers once the company launched its services in July.

'Although the Macau government has promised to lift these caps, they have not yet done so and we are now unable to run the business on a viable basis. The circumstances have made it impossible for us to continue operations,' Macao Dragon said last night in a statement.

The company sold ferry tickets to Macau for as little as HK$88, challenging its two dominant rivals by offering discounts of as much as 41 per cent, albeit with a highly limited sailing schedule of four to five ferries per day in each direction.

Shun Tak Holdings, controlled by the family of gaming mogul Stanley Ho Hung-sun, sells Hong Kong to Macau tickets for HK$151 each, while CotaiJet, controlled by Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson's Sands China, prices them at HK$134 each, according to each company's website.

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