Low-cost carrier Viva Macau’s financial troubles came to a head yesterday, March 27, 2010, when flights were cancelled, causing great inconvenience to passengers, especially those who had come all the way from Hongkong to board flights departing from Macau.
Counter staff reportedly informed the understandably shocked travellers that the airline had run out of money to pay for fuel. Their advice was a simple one: if they needed to fly, they should fly out of Hongkong. At press time, it was still unclear how long operations would remain suspended.
The economically strapped airline asked and received help from the Macau government’s Commercial and Industrial Fund between 2008 and 2009 to tune of a reported MOP100 million (US$12 million). Then, according to Macau newspapers, it requested an extension of this assistance. ?When pressed recently for confirmation, the Civil Aviation Authority of Macau (AACM) would only say that Viva Macau had to “find their way to sustain their operations” in the long term.
AACM emphasised that Viva Macau’s loans were short term and “based on thorough consideration that the destinations which they fly to are not operated by other airlines, that their destinations have expanded Macau’s network and helped to enhance the tourism and aviation development of Macau”.
Viva Macau’s development has been rocky since it started up in 2005, first facing opposition from the territory’s flag carrier Air Macau and finally, the 2008 global recession. At the time of suspension, it had a fleet of three Boeing B676 aircraft and flew to seven destinations.
This stoppage of flights jeopardises the Easter travel plans of thousands of passengers, who have bought Air Macau tickets for trips to Indonesia, Japan and Melbourne.
A check of the carrier’s website www.flyvivamacau.com shows it still to be accepting ticket purchases.
Margie T Logarta