Air Macau, China National Aviation (CNAC) and Shun Tak Holdings are to set up a low-cost airline in Macau to be known as Macau Asia Express.

The three parties unveiled plans for their new airline after long-running talks that at one point included Australia’s Virgin Blue, which withdrew from the negotiations in May last year.

Initial funding will be $30 million and Macau Asia Express will be 51%-owned by Air Macau. The remaining 49% will be held by a company 64%-owned by Shun Tak and 36%-owned by CNAC.

The carrier plans to launch in the fourth quarter of this year and it “will adopt a highly competitive cost model”. Those close to the long-discussed project have said it will probably lease Airbus A320-family narrowbodies to maintain commonality with the fleet of Air Macau. It will serve destinations in China and other parts of Asia.

Main shareholder Air Macau is itself 51%-owned by Hong Kong-listed CNAC, which is in turn controlled by Chinese flag carrier Air China.

Macau Asia Express is one of three new airlines being prepared for launch in Macau: the others are Viva Macau and Golden Dragon.

Source: Flight International