Start-up carrier Greater Bay Airlines has been approved to fly more than 100 routes across the Asia-Pacific region by Hong Kong authorities.
The Air Transport Licensing Authority’s granting of a license for Hong Kong-based airline will provide further competition in the region, chiefly for Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines.
The license permits unlimited frequency flying on 104 routes between Hong Kong International Airport and destinations including mainland China, Japan, South Korea and Thailand. It also covers freighting services as well as commercial flights.
Hong Kong “leading international aviation hub”
The government of Hong Kong made this statement in response to the decision:
“The government believes that Greater Bay Airlines will provide more diversified air services to the market and will further strengthen the air transport connectivity between Hong Kong, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and other parts of the world. This will play a positive role in upholding Hong Kong’s status as a leading international aviation hub.”
The start-up was founded by Chinese property mogul Bill Wong Cho-bau, owner of Shenzhen-based Donghai Airlines. The former CEO of Cathay Dragon, the regional subsidiary of Cathay Pacific, Algernon Yau Ying-wah, also joined the airline in January 2021.
Yau Ying-wah commented he hopes the airline will fly its inaugural route “as soon as possible”.
The airline’s fleet is currently comprised of one Boeing 737-800 but it hopes to receive two more on order in the coming months. Last month, there were reports that it was considering purchasing 30 narrow-body aircraft, likely to be either Boeing 737-10s or Airbus A321neos.
Passenger numbers down 99%
Many of the airline’s new routes became available after Cathay Dragon was closed in October 2020, which was part of a broader restructuring at Cathay Pacific in response to the pandemic.
Whether there is enough demand for the airline yet is still unknown. Compared with the same month two years ago, Hong Kong International Airport experienced a reduction in passenger numbers by almost 99% in January 2022, as strict travel restrictions remain in place across the region.
Are you likely to benefit from Greater Bay Airlines’ new routes? Let us know in the comments below.