Launch of airline startup Greater Bay slowed by COVID situation in Hong Kong – CEO


FILE PHOTO – An airplane takes off at Hong Kong International Airport, China October 21, 2018. Picture taken October 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

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  • Hasn’t set a launch date or destination yet
  • Expects 3 planes to fly by end of 2022, up from 7 earlier
  • 30 A321neos or 737 MAX jets for a longer-term fleet

March 18 (Reuters) – Hong Kong startup Greater Bay Airlines has scaled back its initial growth ambitions due to strict pandemic-related quarantine restrictions and has not yet set a date for its first commercial flights, said its general manager on Friday.

The carrier, which intends to compete with the dominant airline in the financial centre, Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd, obtained a license to operate scheduled flights last month.

The second of three Boeing Co (BA.N) 737-800s leased from Chinese firm ICBC Leasing arrived in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

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However, chief executive Algernon Yau said the two-week hotel quarantine requirements on arrival in the city should be relaxed before Greater Bay commits to a launch date and its first routes.

“I think we would need about three months in advance,” he said in a phone interview about the notice needed to secure traffic rights and airport slots.

The airline said in October it hoped to have seven planes in service by the end of 2022, but Yau said growth plans had been scaled back due to setbacks in the opening of borders then. that COVID-19 cases were increasing in his hometown.

“I think we will operate three aircraft this year,” he said. “And maybe we’ll reach the level in the second half of 2023 where we add two more aircraft.”

The carrier is developing a longer-term growth plan that could involve a fleet of up to 30 Boeing 737 MAX 10 or Airbus SE (AIR.PA) A321neo aircraft flying to destinations in mainland China and around Asia over the course of of the next five years, Yau said. .

Greater Bay has not yet decided whether it will buy the planes directly from manufacturers or lessors or a mix of the two, he added.

The airline will have all-economy class seats and a midrange model similar to Virgin Australia and JetBlue, Yau said, positioning it between full-service Cathay Pacific and that airline’s budget subsidiary, Hong Kong. Express.

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Reporting by Jamie Freed in Sydney; Editing by Stephen Coates

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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