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Macau Intl. Airport – Spotting Guide
Macau International Airport is an international airport in the Macau Special Administrative Region, located at the eastern end of Taipa Island and adjacent waters. It was put into commercial operation on November 9, 1995 during the Portuguese administration of Macau. The Airport is a fully functional 24-hour airport. An 11,000-foot ILS CAT II runway can handle long-haul flights. Equipped with complete passenger and cargo facilities, the airport is designed to handle 6 million passengers and 165,000 tons of cargo annually. Passenger numbers rose to 7,165,803 in 2017, exceeding the terminal’s original design capacity of 6 million per year. As such, the Macau government has been working on an airport expansion master plan since 2016.
As the flights are mainly to mainland China or South Asia, the number of airlines present in Macau is limited. However, there are often special visitors like the A300, B737-300 and B747-200. The airport has only one terminal and is a hub for Air Macau.
You can check the flight schedule for passenger flights at the official website. The airport operates 24 hours, so some special visitors may move in the dark.
Written by Thomas Tse (Follow him on Instagram). Last Update: July 2022
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| (6 votes, average: 3.33 out of 5)
|Terminal||One for all flights|
|Car/Public Transport||Except for Spot 3, cars are not useful in all locations. However, Spot 3 is about a 15-minute walk from the nearest bus stop. With the “Macau Pass Card”, you can pay in all buses and railway. The card can be obtained at all 7-Eleven, Circle-K, Sunsco supermarkets, US MArt supermarkets, Simple Kind Life Mart supermarkets, and the three Macau Pass customer service centers.
Passengers can easily reach the airport by public bus, taxi, and LRT service. If your destination or starting point is from or to the hotel, the most convenient way to travel is to take one of the many comfortable free shuttle buses from Macau International Airport. In addition, the Macau Ferry Terminal is about a 10-minute drive from Macau International Airport, and passengers can use the terminal to travel to mainland China and Hong Kong.
|Drinks/Food||Only in the terminal and Taipa Ferry Terminal|
|Hotels||Treasure Hotel and Golden Crown China Hotel are the closest hotels to the airport. Some rooms have airport views. However, they are now quarantine hotels as COVID-19 used to be. It is recommended to find a hotel with light rail connection in Cotai|
|Season||Summer is hot and humid. Since it is also the rainy season, thunderstorms or typhoons must be expected. However, some spots are covered and you can still try to take pictures on a rainy day. Autumn and winter are cooler and drier, but haze may be one of the concerns.|
|16/34||Usually planes are more likely to use runway 34 for takeoffs and arrivals, but some airlines prefer to use runway 16 for takeoffs, especially those flying south. ATC usually accepts requests from airlines and pilots where conditions permit. So we might see one flight using runway 34 and another flight using runway 16 5 minutes later. Therefore, it is advisable to keep an eye on real-time flight routes|
|Spot #1 – Rail Station – Ramp and Taxiway movements|
|WHERE||The rail station can be accessed from Airport Station of Macao Light Rapid Transit or Terminal on Level 2. If you’re coming from the airport terminal, just follow the sign and go to the rail station. If you’re coming from outside of the airport, use the stairs next to the light rail station and go to the top floor. There is a white staircase near Exit B of the rail station. Walk up to the exposed part for the most wonderful view. If it’s raining, you can stay at the station or the covered part, so you can shoot some rainy days.|
|WHAT||This spot is great for moving on the north side of the ramp, you will be able to spot arriving traffic after the plane has landed on runway 34 or departing traffic using runway 16 as they will taxi to the runway in front of the train station after leaving the train station. Also, you will be able to see the movement on some ramps. Too much distance for movement on the runway.|
|TIME||From noon to sunset all year round. Also ideal for night shots.|
|MISC.||Restaurants and restrooms are inside the terminal with two-minute walking distance, use the passage, and follow the sign.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||70 mm for A300; 150-200 mm for A320|
|Spot #2 – Macau Convention Centre – Ramp and Taxiway|
|WHERE||The spot is located at Estrada da Ponta da Cabrita. It can be reached by bus No. 37. Get off at Golden Crown China Hotel and walk to Macau Convention Center. There is a ramp next to the parking lot entrance.
At the moment this spot cannot be reached by foot directly from the terminal as you have to cross the hotels, which is not possible at the moment.
|WHAT||This spot is great for moving on the north side of the ramp, you will be able to spot arriving traffic after the plane has landed on runway 34 or departing traffic using runway 16 as they will taxi to the runway in front of the train station after leaving the train station. However, you have to make a close attention on the rooftop of the rail station|
|TIME||From noon to sunset all year round.|
|MISC.||Bring what you need as Macau Convention Center is not normally accessible and nearby hotels are for quarantine|
|FOCAL LENGTH||230-300 mm for A320|
|Spot #3 – Out Lady of Sorrows Church – Runway 34|
|WHERE||To reach it from the terminal or hotel area in Cotai you definitively have to rely on the bus or a taxi. Even if it seems not that far from some hotels it is not walkable. If you try to walk, Google Maps would lead you through a tunnel and a highway-akin major road without any sidewalk. Passing the tunnel is even forbidden for pedestrians by road sign and it is quite dangerous. Owing to some ongoing construction in the surrounding area there seems to be no other way to get there by foot. It is located in Estrada de Nossa Senhora de Ká Hó, Nossa Senhora Village, Coloane. It can be reached by bus No. 21A. Get off at IGREJA DE NOSSA SENHORA DAS DORES (KÁ HÓ) and go into the church. There is a street sign showing the direction to Farol De Ka Ho. Go down that road and you’ll see a staircase going down near the top of the road. Take that stairs and you will see the runway.|
|WHAT||Both traffic aircraft on 34 can be perfectly seen here.|
|TIME||From 15:30 to sunset all year round|
|MISC.||There’s absolutely nothing at this spot, bring with you what you need.|
|FOCAL LENGTH||280-300 mm for A330; 300-400 mm for A321|