Macau hit by air losses

12 Mar 2009

The decision by Bangkok Airways and Malaysian Airlines to suspend their services to Macau announced earlier this week comes despite an overall growth in Thai and Malaysian visitors to the territory.

Figures for January 2009 show that the number of visitors arriving at the Macao International Airport dropped by 9.6 percent to 110,912. The three largest markets were Taiwan (36.2 percent), Mainland China (28.6percent) and Thailand (6.9 percent).

Candy Sum of the Hongkong office of the Macau Government Tourism Office said that year-on-year arrival figures from Thailand showed only an insignificant drop of just 27 from 7,706 air arrivals from Thailand in January 2008 to 7,679 in January 2009.

However, MGTO statistics show an increase in Thai visitors in the first month of the year to 20,924, a 12 percent growth on the 2008 figure, suggesting the bulk of Thai nationals continue to arrive in the territory from Hongkong.

Figures for 2008, showed a 12 percent increase in Malaysian visitors over 2007 and an 81 percent increase in the number of Thai residents visiting the Special Administrative Region.

Malaysia Airlines opened a direct route to Macau in November 1995, but suspended it in 1998 due to low demand during the Asian financial crisis. The airline resumed its Macau-bound service in November 2007.

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Kenny Coyle

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