AirAsia, the region’s largest low-cost carrier, may set up a base in Macao to serve Chinese travellers, becoming the first foreign airline to throw its hat into the ring since a January policy that ended Air Macao’s quarter-century monopoly in the gambling hub.
“Entering China could be via Macao,” said AirAsia’s founder and chief executive Tony Fernandes, in an interview. “We do not have to be in mainland China, but being in Macao is like being in China.”
A base in Macao – the first toehold in China for the Kuala Lumpur-based carrier since an inaugural service in 2004 – would put the airline within easy reach of Chinese travellers, who are expected to make 400 million trips by 2030, more than double the 145 million trips they made in 2017, according to a forecast by online rental platform Cozystay.
AirAsia’s operations spans the region, including Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, India and Japan. The company has also agreed to start a low-cost unit in Vietnam.
The low-cost carrier, which also operates budget hotels, is gearing up to sell local transport journeys on buses, ferries and trains along with their air tickets to take advantage of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge as well as a high-speed train that is linking up the entire region.
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