Macau signed a new aviation pact with the mainland almost doubling its quota for weekly flights to Chinese cities to 539 passenger flights per week, the South China Morning Post reported. The increase, a 90% jump on the previous agreement, also opens the way for a second airline other than Air Macau to operate out of Macau clearing the path for Australia's Virgin Blue which has plans to launch a low-cost, China-focused carrier from the territory's airport. The number of mainland cities accessible from Macau has also been increased from 31 to 37, although the most lucrative routes to Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou will not be opened to a second carrier until mid-2006. Macau's international airport currently has a stands for 19 aircraft and a capacity to handle 6m passengers a year. Virgin Blue is expected to make an announcement on the new carrier in the near future.
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