A new bill aiming to partially liberalise air transport introduced by the Macau Special Administrative Region (SAR) government is expected to be ready for voting on after the Easter holidays following a review by the region's Legislative Assembly, the Macau Daily Times reported.

The Civil Aviation Activities Bill comes in the wake of the government's failure to pass legislation last year that would have ended the privileged position of Air Macau (NX, Macau International) at Macau International Airport.

A final version of the bill is undergoing review over the following weeks before it is voted on. It will become law the day after publication in the government's official gazette. Among other outcomes, the bill will open the way for passenger carriers other than Air Macau to maintain a base at the local airport, ending a competitive advantage that the operator has enjoyed since 1995.

At a media briefing this week, a SAR government spokesperson said the number of local air operator's certificates (AOCs) issued and airlines allowed to use Macau as a base would be at the government's discretion and subject to market conditions.

According to the ch-aviation PRO airports module, 27 airlines (including 24 passenger carriers) fly into Macau International, but Air Macau is the only scheduled passenger carrier with a base there, enjoying a 42.66% market share (measured by weekly seat capacity). Of the top ten passenger carriers servicing the airport, aside from Air Macau four are from the Chinese mainland, three from Taiwan, one from Thailand, and one from Malaysia.

The new bill will require that any operator relying on a Macau-issued AOC will need to submit a five-year business plan as part of their application. This will also apply to Air Macau, with the carrier having 90 days after the new bill comes into force to do this. The Civil Aviation Activities Bill also introduces a so-called national security provision, with any person found guilty of any security violations barred from the operations of any airline flying to Macau or any concessionaires.