Air Macau claims to have made its first monthly profit since being launched a year ago, and is now planning further expansion of its regional services to China and Taiwan.

According to Air Macau deputy chief executive officer, Carlos Pimentel, the start-up airline made its first profit in October on the back of record passenger load factors at a high of 81%. The carrier, which is 51% owned by the Chinese Government, has not released detailed financial figures since its launch in November 1996.

Air Macau carried nearly 540,000 passengers in the first nine months of the year, representing an average load factor of just over 68%. Pimentel admits, however, that its 46% cargo load factor has proved a disappointment, totalling only 5,738t since the start of the year.

The airline is heavily reliant on through traffic between Taiwan and main land China, accounting for all but three of its 61 weekly flights. With the delivery of two more leased Airbus A321s in February and April 1997, increasing Air Macau's A320/321 fleet to six aircraft, it plans to add 30 more frequencies.

Apart from increasing its Taiwan service between Macau and Taipei from 21 to 32 weekly flights and between Macau and Kaohsiung from nine to 14, the carrier plans to launch daily frequencies to Haikou and thrice weekly services to Wuhan and Qingdao, all in China.

Source: Flight International