Macau International Airport South Terminal Expansion Beginning Early 2019

Posted on: December 4, 2018, 09:46h. 

Last updated on: December 4, 2018, 09:46h.

The Macau government is announcing further expansion plans to its international airport to accommodate growing demand, and says work on the south terminal project will begin early next year.

Macau airport expansion casino gambling
With more and more flights and passengers arriving daily, the Macau airport is readying to undergo yet another expansion. (Image: Skycraper City)

Officially known as the Passenger Terminal Building South Extension Design and Build Project, the more than 75,000-square-foot expansion will increase Macau International Airport’s total capacity to 10 million annual passengers. The government says the project will get underway in early 2019, but gave no timetable as to when the development might be completed.

Along with added departure gates, the three-level terminal expansion will include commercial and retail space, food and beverage, VIP area, and office space.

In February of this year, the North Extension Project was completed and opened for commercial use. The expansion took the airport’s annual capacity from six million passengers to 7.8 million passengers.

No US airline carrier currently flies to Macau.

Airport Crowding

More than 7.1 million people arrived and departed through Macau International in 2017. It marked the airport’s seventh consecutive year of passenger growth.

Through the first nine months of 2018, passenger traffic is at 6,156,222. If that pace holds through the final quarter, total arrivals and departures will eclipse 8.2 million for the year, a number that would currently exceed what the airport is designed to handle.

The growing visitation is partially a result of Macau’s casino resorts pivoting from a high roller’s paradise towards more of a family-friendly vacation destination catering to people of many walks of life. The overhaul came as a result of People’s Republic President Xi Jinping directing law enforcement to better monitor VIP junket groups that bring wealthy mainlanders to the enclave to gamble.

The Macau government believes investing in the airport expansion is critical to making sure both high rollers and the vacationing middleclass segment continue to frequent the Special Administrative Region (SAR). The overnight crowd is of course more valuable to the tourism and gaming industry than day trippers who are arriving via the recently opened Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau (HKZM) bridge or live locally in the region.

Additional Phases Planned

Macau International won’t be complete when the south terminal opens. The enclave government says the airport will continue to expand in the years to come, with the goal of being able to accommodate 15 million annual passengers by 2040.

Billionaire Stanley Ho’s SJM Holdings lost its gambling monopoly after the enclave was returned to China from Portugal back in 1999. Two years later, the SAR issued gaming licenses to Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, Galaxy Entertainment, MGM Resorts, and Melco Resorts.

Prior to the casino expansion, Macau International reported total traffic of 2.6 million passengers in 1999. A decade later, that number soared 60 percent to 4.25 million passengers.

The growth has been exceptional, but Macau International still remains a relatively small airport compared to its Hong Kong neighbor. Now accessible via the KHZM bridge in just 45 minutes, Hong Kong International handled more than 72.6 million passengers last year, which ranked No. 8 in the world.