Tensions flare up in Macau's airline sector

Macau's two rival airlines have entered into a public dispute over traffic rights that has highlighted the Chinese ­territory's unusual policies over the ­licensing of airlines.

The dispute became public when 17-month-old Viva Macau sent an angry letter to the local press highlighting the difficulties it has had in obtaining traffic rights for new services. The reason is main carrier Air Macau has an exclusive concession to operate air services from Macau and it has the right to approve or reject Viva's traffic rights requests.

Viva Macau wrote angrily in its letter that the "monopoly airline environmenthas underserved [Macau's] needs and Air Macau is protecting its own interests over the interests of Macau SAR".

Viva Macau's letter was written in response to comments made by Air Macau chief executive David Fei, who was quoted in a local newspaper as saying Viva Macau was not restricted in its operations, provided they are approved by Air Macau. Viva, which now operates three routes under a long-haul low-cost business model, claims Air Macau has "rejected the majority" of its applications "for new points to fly to, even where Air Macau has never operated in 14 years".

It adds: "The traffic rights that Air Macau is hoarding are public property they belong to the government and the people of Macau SAR and should be used for the benefit of Macau SAR, not just the benefit of one airline who makes little or no use of them."

Source: Airline Business