Viva Macau, a new low-cost carrier based in the former Portuguese enclave, will launch its first service to Phuket and Jakarta in the middle of this month at promotional prices as low as HK$88. About 10 per cent of tickets, which go on sale today, would be sold at HK$88 with the balance sold at incremental prices ranging from HK$188, HK$288 and so on, chief executive Andrew Pyne said. The carrier, which said it would also offer flights to the Maldives at HK$888, will run the promotions until the end of January. Thrice weekly services to Phuket will start on December 16 and to Jakarta two days later. The carrier will fly to the Maldives twice a week on Thursdays and Sundays, starting December 21. 'We are in a bid to bring people not just from Macau but Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta to those exciting destinations at great value for money,' Mr Pyne said. Mr Pyne, who predicted demand for travelling from southern China to grow at a compound 25 per cent, is considering starting more services to Asia Pacific cities. Ho Chi Minh City, Dubai, Sydney, Singapore and some secondary cities in Japan will be the next ports of call as soon as next year, he said. Destinations in the mainland and Taiwan were not a priority. The carrier is expecting to take possession of three to four new Boeing 767s next year, bringing its fleet to six planes by the end of 2007. As many as 500,000 passengers may fly with Viva Macau in the first year, Mr Pyne said. He forecast the carrier will break even on operating costs after one year with the load factor, or percentage of seats occupied, achieving 68 per cent in that time. Macau Airport's low charges, at 25 per cent less than Hong Kong's and lower labour costs and rent, meant the carrier could operate more efficiently than other regional budget airlines such as AirAsia, Mr Pyne said. A new pier to be completed inside the Macau airport will cut the transit time between the airport and Hong Kong to between 45 and 50 minutes, encouraging more Hong Kong people to fly through Macau, he said. Two Asia funds are about to take 40 per cent of Viva and a formal agreement will be signed in 10 days. The balance is split among three investors, including MKW Capital, JFT Holding and Han Huo Group. 'We are looking at capitalisation of US$35 million from existing and new shareholders, setting aside the US$11 million that has been invested,' Mr Pyne said.