A few more pictures from the webmaster's next adventure: Viva Macau. Viva Macau was a short lived airline based in Macau, providing Boeing 767 service from Macau to cities in Australia, Japan, Vietnam, and Indonesia. For the staff, Viva Macau was a near perfect airline: great destinations, great schedules, great management, effective and just culture, with great people. For the customer, there were great prices, on-time departures, and friendly service at every turn.
Viva Macau was subject to one of the world's most corrupt, opaque, and monopoly-loving governents. Below is a cautionary lesson to anyone considering working for or investing in Macau!
Viva Macau did not have an inherent right to conduct business. Neither did it enjoy "equality under the law." Viva Macau was required to lease its operating priveleges as a "sub concession" from Air Macau (partially owned and controlled by Air China), and had to fight tooth-and-nail for everything it needed to conduct business. The airline was tolerated as long as it quietly did business and not pose a competitive threat to Air Macau or Air China.
Viva Macau struggled as a business, but was managing to grow, and by 2010 had a fleet of 3 Boeing 767s in service. It was granted loans by the Macau "Industrial and Commercial Development Fund" to meet operating expenses during the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. By early 2010, Viva Macau had attracted the attention of five very substantial investors. These investors have been said to include Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Air Asia, and the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Top leadership in the Macau government, with an interest in the financial strength of Air Macau (and Air China), did not want to see Viva Macau suddenly expand and become a driving force they could not subjugate - so they destroyed the airline with an illegal shutdown.
Macau's Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Lau Si Io, illegally ordered Air Macau to cancel the sub concession, forcing Viva Macau to cease operations. There was no due process, no appeal, and no legal recourse of any kind. Macau's government also abrupty and without any notion of due process canceled the work permits of foreign employees - effectively kicking them out of the country. In the press, there was biased reporting with a tone of finality regarding the Viva Macau sutdown - a deliberate posture of the so-called "free press" supporting the government's actions.
With great satisfaction, the former employees and investors of Viva Macau witnessed hearings starting May 30, 2012 in which the crorrupt Air Macau and Lau Si Io were forced to explain, in public, their corporate execution of Viva Macau.
Interestingly, Macau's former Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Ao Man Long, was convicted on May 31, 2012 on NINE counts of bribe taking and money laundering. Both Secretaries have followed a pattern of abusing their authority "at the expense of public interests and regardless of the established official procedures." Ao's sentence totaled 417 years, but he was given a term of only 29 years to actually serve.
Blues performer Jimy Graham penned a song after the shutdown, titled "Viva Macau Blues" and performed in Macau's Roadhouse pub. Listen to Jimy's amusing rendition on April 23, 2010.
The people of Viva Macau have since scattered around the world, settling into other airlines, other careers, and in some cases - retirement. The webmaster went to a Chinese airline and continues his quest for a prosperous, stable, and sane place to fly...