Air Macau (NX, Macau International) will continue to enjoy its dominant position at Macau International for a further three years after the Special Administrative Region's government failed to pass legislation needed to end the airline's privileged position at the airport.

Under the so-called "airline concession system," Air Macau has enjoyed exclusive access to slots at Macau International since 1995, among other benefits. That deal, valid for 25 years, was allowed because Air Macau agreed to provide services into the territory in return. However, it has also allowed the airline to charge above-market rates and restrict other carrier's access to Macau International.

Legislators began developing plans several years ago to end this arrangement, which was due to expire in 2020. However, Covid-19 intervened, and the Macau SAR government granted Air Macau a three-year extension. That extension was due to expire on December 31, 2023. This year, there have been concerted efforts to develop and pass legislation to end the beneficial arrangement. However, in September, ch-aviation reported that the bill had stalled at the Legislative Council level and an extension was possible. Macau media says the final reading for the bill failed to take place in time to meet the December 31 deadline.

"It is necessary to maintain the current airline concession regime so that Air Macau can continue to provide uninterrupted services to Macau residents and visitors," reads a Macau Civil Aviation Authority statement. "The extension of Air Macau Limited's franchise contract will not prevent foreign airlines from operating flights to Macau."

Air Macau's 22 narrowbody Airbus aircraft fly to 31 destinations in nine countries, including Thailand, Viet Nam, China, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea. ch-aviation PRO airports data reveals that 27 airlines fly into Macau International, including 24 scheduled passenger carriers. However, Air Macau dominates in terms of capacity and frequency. The airline provides 41.24% of the 81,661 seats on offer each week on flights to and from the airport. Of the 451 weekly flights at the airport, Air Macau operates 42.79% of them. The latest concession extension will see Air Macau continue this dominance through December 31, 2026.