Will Hong Kong Get a New Airline?
- Bill Wong, a Shenzhen-based business tycoon with Hong Kong residency, maintains his interest in launching a new Hong Kong-based airline to compete with embattled Cathay Pacific. The South China Morning Post delves into his plans for Greater Bay Airlines, which hopes to launch next summer with three B737s. With Cathay shedding so many planes and workers, Greater Bay thinks it can quickly scale up to 30 planes by 2025. (And remember, scale matters when it comes to airline unit costs; see feature story below).
Wong is not new to aviation. He owns Shenzhen-based Donghai Airlines, which flies 23 B737-NGs and has 25 MAXs on order. He raises the possibility of hiring some laid off Cathay pilots and using them at Donghai before transferring them to Greater Bay. The new airline’s target will be mainland China routes, at least initially. Cathay, recall, is closing its Dragonair unit which specializes in mainland flights, though it still intends to serve them with Cathay-branded jets.
Will Greater Bay be a low-cost carrier? Not really, Wong says, but something less expensive and premium than Cathay. The city has a third carrier, by the way, called Hong Kong Airlines backed by the mainland’s HNA Group. Clearly, Wong’s longterm bet is that Hong Kong will remain a major global aviation hub, and that Beijing will be successful in its efforts to integrate and develop the Greater Bay area of Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong. The latter’s airport will have a new runway soon, accommodating future growth.
And Covid-19? Donghai claims to have recovered 98% of its pre-pandemic business, auguring well for Hong Kong’s airline market when vaccines arrive and travel restrictions removed.