One month following the application for its “Licensing of Air Services”, Greater Bay Airlines (GBA) was granted by the Air Transport Licensing Authority(ATLA) of Hong Kong to operate scheduled services based in the city. Earlier on Monday the 21st, Hong Kong’s youngest airline Greater Bay Airlines was granted a license to operate scheduled flights between 104 routes including China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and multiple destinations within the Asia Pacific region for the next five years.
Expedited License Approval
The application filed one month ago was quickly approved by the Air Transport Licensing Authority, which according to the Hong Kong Government, is an independent statutory body with the authority to grant, revoke or suspend licenses for scheduled flight operations. Published information on the Government website shows the last application for a “Licensing for Air Services” was submitted back in June 2013 by Jetstar Hong Kong Airways Limited. The application was eventually denied in June 2015, two years after the application as all Hong Kong-based airlines filed their objections suggesting that Jetstar Hong Kong did not have its Principal Place of Business in Hong Kong.
Greater Bay Airlines through the years
Formerly known as Donghai Airlines back in 2010, GBA re-established its name as Greater Bay Airlines in 2020 before it applied for the Air Operator Certificate (AOC). After more than a year of evaluation, it was granted its AOC in October 2021, allowing the airlines to operate charter ad training flights while they prepare for the application of the “Licensing of Air Services” needed to operate scheduled services. GBA currently operates one Boeing 737-800 with 2 more 737s expected to join its fleet in 2022 and will base its fleet expansion on the market demand. The associated airline was first founded by Bill Wong Cho Bau, a multi-faceted tycoon in the areas of industrial, tourism, and aviation sector in Shenzhen, China. Wong is also a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference which is likely to explain the fastidious application process of the license. Currently, GBA is led by the CEO Algernon Yau, former CEO of Cathay Dragon.
GBA to Inherit Routes for 104 Destinations from Cathay Dragon
GBA’s application of the “Licensing of Air Services” includes mostly routes formerly operated by Cathay Dragon which ceased operations in Oct 2020. GBA was granted approval for all its 104 applied routes including 48 domestic destinations and the rest being short-medium haul destinations within the Asia Pacific region like Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and Thailand. The approval also grants GBA the license required to operate both passenger and cargo services.
NEO or MAX?
The press release states GBA will expand its fleet in accordance with market demand, subject to the situation of the current pandemic. Bloomberg also reported earlier last week stating the airline is considering an order for 30 narrow-body aircraft with the total amount up to $1.77billion dollars. GBA is said to be in negotiation with Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS for their 737MAX-10 and A321neo respectively.
To complement the ambitious plans for the fledging carrier, Greater Bay Airlines CEO Algernon Yau expressed hopes to see the airline in the air within the next two months upon receiving its new license. Hong Kong is currently under the strictest COVID-19 prevention measures to date with their goals set to keep COVID-Zero in unison with mainland China.
With the flag-carrier Cathay Pacific struggling with Hong Kong’s tightened border controls, do you think GBA will overwhelm the monopoly of the aviation industry in Hong Kong? Let us know below!