December 11, 2007
Macao court suspends CotaiJet ferry service
Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) announced today that the Macao Intermediate Court has temporarily suspended the company's recently launched Cotai Strip CotaiJet ferry service while the court reviews a legal challenge to the Macao government's decision that granted CotaiJet a concession to operate ferry service between Hong Kong and Macao.
The service was recently inaugurated by the first of a series of 10 Austal 47.5 meter, 400 passenger catamarans with an operating speed of 42 knots.
The challenge to the service is being brought by established ferry operator Hong Kong North West Express on the grounds that the Macao government had not conducted an open tendering process.
The Macao government awarded a ferry operating licence to Cotai Waterjets, and Giant Dragon, a firm controlled by Macao businessman Ng Fok, to run a route between the new Pac On terminal, on Taipa, and Sheung Wan.
Hong Kong North West Express had been hoping to start a twice-an-hour service to Macao.
Stephen Weaver, president of Asian Region, Las Vegas Sands Corp, commented: "We are confident the Macao court system will act prudently and expeditiously and that the results will serve in the best interests of the residents and visitors of Macao, Hong Kong, and the wider Pearl River Delta region."
Weaver said that since the CotaiJet service has only been operating for a week and a half its temporary suspension would not significantly impact visitation to Macao or the company's Venetian Macao Resort Hotel, which opened in August and has averaged more than 60,000 visitors per day on weekdays and more than 100,000 visitors per day on weekends.
"We are just starting to ramp up our CotaiJet operations and the real impact will be felt when we begin running multiple ferries both day and night," he said.
Weaver also added that the CotaiJet partnership with Cotai Chu Kong Shipping Management Services Co., Ltd. of Hong Kong, which manages the ferries, is off to a great start and the two entities remain deeply committed to helping address the region's long-term transportation needs.
"The public response and demand for the CotaiJet service has been overwhelmingly positive. Our guests are very complimentary of our friendly employees and our on-board service and they appreciate the convenience of traveling directly between Hong Kong and Taipa," said Mr. Ren Qi Sheng, chief executive officer of Cotai Chu Kong Shipping Management Services Co., Ltd. "During this time we will continue to retain, pay, and further train our staff so that when a resolution is reached we will be able to quickly resume CotaiJet service with the same high standards our passengers have already come to expect."