Viva Macau launching Melbourne service, seeks more aircraft

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Viva Macau is launching services to Melbourne, its second destination in Australia.

This twice-weekly non-stop service starts on 9 December using Boeing 767s, says Viva Macau.

The airline told ATI earlier this month, that it was planning to launch a second service to Australia to complement its Sydney service. It was considering Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Melbourne.

The airline's CEO, Reg Macdonald, says it chose Melbourne because "there is a lot of potential for traffic in both directions" and Melbourne is a market where there is demand for both passenger and cargo services. Viva Macau transports cargo in the belly-hold of its 767s.

Melbourne also has a large ethnic Chinese population whose ancestors predominately come from southern China, where Viva Macau is based.

Macdonald says Viva Macau will be working with Melbourne Airport and Tourism Victoria to generate awareness for the new Macau-Melbourne service.

It is also in the process of selecting a ground handling company in Melbourne, he says, adding that it uses Menzies in Sydney.

Viva Macau is able to launch Melbourne services because a few weeks ago it received its third aircraft, a GE-powered Boeing 767-300ER on lease from AWAS. Its other aircraft are a Boeing 767-200ER and a Boeing 767-300.

Going forward the airline only wants to add 767-300ERs because this model has extended range and can carry 15t of cargo in the belly-hold, says MacDonald.

He says they are looking to lease a fourth 767 as soon as this year. "We don't really have a strong preference for engine type but at the moment we have more aircraft with GE engines so we will probably go with that."

Viva Macau outsources engine maintenance "so it doesn't really matter" if the airline opts for GE or Pratt & Whitney engines. But there is probably some small cost benefit with GE because the airline has more of that engine type, he adds.

While Viva Macau is poised to launch services to Melbourne, Macdonald says later this year it plans to launch a new service to either Japan or Vietnam. It already serves Ho Chi Minh City and Tokyo Narita.

As for next year, the airline hopes to launch services to India, says Macdonald, adding that he will be visiting India in the coming weeks.