Casino operator seeks airline partner for low-budget travel deals to Macau


Sands China Ltd., Asia’s most valuable listed casino operator, may team up with a Chinese airline flying to Macau to start low-budget travel deals, boosting tourism to the world’s biggest gambling hub.

“We are very hopeful that we will see a new carrier service coming to Macau within the next 12 months,” Chief Executive Officer Steve Jacobs said in an interview in Beijing. “There are quite a few low-cost airlines that would love to come to Macau.”

Sands China, the Hong Kong-listed unit of billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s casino company, seeks partnerships with travel agents and may start two-to-four day package deals to Macau, he said in a speech in Beijing. About half of the company’s rooms are sold to families, he said.

While about 70 percent of the city’s revenue comes from gamblers placing high-limit bets, Adelson has said he plans to recreate the Las Vegas Strip on Macau’s 1.8-mile Cotai Strip and trigger a jump in the non-gambling portion of casino operators’ earnings. About 85 percent of Sands China’s customers come from mainland China — which excludes Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Sands China fell 2 percent to HK$11.66 in Hong Kong trading, while the benchmark Hang Seng Index rose 0.2 percent. The stock has surged 23 percent this year.

Jacobs didn’t specify which airlines he had discussions with. Air China Ltd., China Eastern Airlines Corp.’s Shanghai Airlines, Air Macau and Xiamen Airlines are among the carriers that have flights to Macau from mainland China.

Entertainment and Business

The company’s tour of 13 Chinese cities focused on Macau’s entertainment, hotel, and business facilities, Jacobs said. His speech in Beijing did not mention gambling.

Jacobs also said financing for a new resort in Macau is “more than sufficient” to complete a new 6,000-room project in the third quarter of 2011.

Sands China last year raised $2.5 billion in an initial public offering and $600 million in a convertible bond sale. It is using $500 million from the listing for the resort complex as well as a $1.75 billion loan signed on May 17, he said.

Parent Las Vegas Sands Corp., which Adelson has described as “an Asian company with a presence in Las Vegas and the U.S.,” last year derived 73 percent of its $4.56 billion revenue in Macau. The proportion of revenue Las Vegas Sands earns in Asia is set to increase further after the $5.5 billion Marina Bay Sands opened in Singapore in April.