The Macau SAR government is preparing to open up Macau International Airport to more competition with legislation that will end a longstanding arrangement that gives Air Macau (NX, Macau International) exclusive access to the airport's slots, requires other airlines to negotiate with it, and pay above market rates to fly in.

In 1995, Air Macau signed a 25-year contract with the SAR government, agreeing to provide passenger, cargo, and mail services in and out of Macau International Airport. In exchange, the airline obtained monopoly rights at the airport over the contract's lifespan, and no other scheduled carrier could base there.

In 2019, Air Macau was told that its monopoly at the airport would end when the contract expired in 2020. However, the onset of Covid-19 saw the contract extended for three years, until the end of 2023. But late last week, Macau-based media were reporting that the SAR government has already prepared legislation to open up the airport to competition, and will submit that legislation to the local Legislative Assembly in the the upcoming weeks. The successful breaking up of a casino monopoly in Macau 20 years ago is reportedly the template for ending Air Macau's reign at the airport.

According to the ch-aviation PRO airports module, a start up called 888 Macau Airlines wants to base itself at Macau International. There are also three charter operators based at the airport - Hang Seng Sociedade Unipessoal, Jet Asia (Macao), and Macau Landmark Hotel. However, a further 22 airlines schedule flights into Macau. Except for a Qatar Airways (QR, Doha Hamad International) cargo service, all are Asia-based carriers, and all have to negotiate with Air Macau for the rights to operate to and from Macau. The decision to liberalise access to the airport is expected to result in more choice for passengers and lead to a decrease in fares.

In 2019, when the SAR government first flagged ending Air Macau's monopoly position, several carriers, including Cebu Pacific Air (5J, Manila Ninoy Aquino International) and the AirAsia Group expressed interest in increasing flights to and from the Macau.