In a Facebook post published earlier today, Macau International Airport – citing Macao Transport Info – reported that Air Macau is studying the feasibility of introducing wide-body aircraft into its fleet.
Specifically, it was mentioned that the airline is looking into two aircraft types – Airbus A330 and Airbus A350. The report didn’t name any specific variants of the two types.
Air Macau and Wide-Body Aircraft
Air Macau which commenced operations in 1995 is the flagship airline of Macau. It connects Macau with destinations in mainland China as well as in other Asian countries.
The airline currently operates a fleet of 22 aircraft. The vast majority of those are A320ceo series aircraft including 3 A319s, 6 A320s, and 10 A321s. Air Macau also operates 3 A320neos and expects to add 5 A321neos to its fleet in the future.
As such, adding A330s or A350s to its fleet would considerably increase the range it could reach non-stop from Macau as well as the capacity it could offer on a single flight.
Macau is close to and well-connected with Hong Kong which offers plenty of flights to destinations all over the world. As such, chances that Air Macau would decide to operate long-haul flights are virtually non-existent at this point.
If – and it is a big “if” – the airline decided to acquire wide-bodies, it could potentially benefit from the increased capacity on some of its busier routes like the one to Beijing.
That said, historically, it wouldn’t be the first time for Air Macau to operate wide-body aircraft. The airline briefly operated a passenger A300 in 2006 before converting it to a freighter.
It also wouldn’t be the first time for the airline to consider adding the A330 into its fleet. In 2002, FlightGlobal reported that Air Macau was considering acquiring and using the type on services to Taiwan. According to the report, Air Macau said:
For Air Macau to grow into wide-body aircraft it is a very big decision. We are being very cautious on that.
Clearly, the airline decided to scrap the plan.
Macau’s other, short-lived, airline Viva Macau operated wide-bodies as well. The airline was in business between 2005 and 2010, and it operated a fleet of Boeing 767s. Besides services within Asia, the airline was also flying the aircraft to Sydney and Melbourne in Australia.
As for Macau airport itself, there are currently no scheduled long-haul services. The traffic at the airport consists almost exclusively of flights to mainland China and other countries in both North as well as Southeast Asia.
The only airline operating wide-body passenger aircraft to Macau airport with any sort of regularity is Eva Air with its flights from Taipei.
While it would be great if an airline from Macau could operate wide-body aircraft again, the chances are very slim to non-existent, I’d say.
With Air Macau being a niche airline connecting mostly Chinese cities – and some other Asian airports – with Macau, the routes it could potentially deploy a wide-body aircraft one would be very limited.
Especially so considering the fact that Hong Kong airport which offers non-stop flights to virtually every corner of the world is just a short ferry or bus ride away.