Delays in approving legislation to end the monopoly of Air Macau (NX, Macau International) at the territory's airport may see the airline's "concession" extended by an additional six months, Macao-based media outlets report.

As previously reported by ch-aviation, the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR) government wants to end a longstanding arrangement that gives Air Macau exclusive access to the airport's slots, requires other airlines to negotiate access with it, and pay above market rates to fly in.

That arrangement dates back to 1995 when Air Macau signed a 25-year contract to provide passenger and cargo flights in and out of Macao International in exchange for a series of advantageous concessions. The deal was due to end in 2020 but was extended due to Covid-19 and now runs through November 9, 2023. However, this year, the SAR government has resumed its efforts to break up the carrier's monopoly and grow traffic into the former Portuguese colony.

In June, the legislation allowing the changes easily passed through Macao's Legislative Assembly, with 30 parliamentarians voting for it and two abstaining. Per standard procedures, the legislation was sent to the 3rd Standing Committee of the Legislative Council for review, where it has since stalled.

Chairman of the standing committee Huang Xianhui told media this week that the committee knew there was some urgency to finish its review and said it is continuing the process over a SAR parliamentary recess period. However, the SAR government will consider extending the agreement with Air Macau if necessary.

According to ch-aviation PRO airports data, 28 airlines operate into Macau International, flying to 49 destinations in 12 countries. Measured by both weekly seat capacity and flight frequencies, Air Macau is the dominant carrier at the airport, with 40% plus market shares, almost quadruple the second-place getter on both measures, China Eastern Airlines (MU, Shanghai Hongqiao). Among the concessions Air Macau currently benefits from is a ban on other scheduled passenger airlines, including Chinese mainland airlines, opening a base at Macau International.