By Will Lee
Greater Bay Airlines Expects to Launch in 2022
Algernon Yau — the chief executive officer of Greater Bay Airlines — hopes to launch the brand-new Hong Kong airline with its maiden flight in the second quarter of 2022 after failing to start its business on Oct.1.
The airline had been granted the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) in August and expected the Air Transport License would be received as soon as September. However, the airline hasn’t been granted a license from the Hong Kong government. According to local media, a licensing hearing will be hosted for December, GBA is optimistic about the license.
GBA is expected to start operation with three Boeing 737-800s. Two aircraft are already delivered and the third aircraft will be delivered after February.
Yau admitted the delay of the license could be an impact to the carrier as the airline is burning cash but insisted the company finance is not under pressure.
Recently, Thailand and Singapore have lifted the travel restrictions, allowing foreigners to go to the two countries without quarantine. Yau believed the airline will launch Hong Kong – Bangkok, Hong Kong – Phuket, Thailand and Hong Kong – Singapore routes in the early phase. In the meantime, the airline is trying to launch flights to Beijing and Shanghai, China. Earlier, the airline revealed the routes are the most profitable. Yau believed the airline will rely on cargo services before the travel restrictions are lifted. According to Hong Kong International Airport, the cargo throughput has recorded an almost 15% increase, compared to the same time last year.
Greater Bay Airlines is well known for mainly focusing on the Greater Bay Area and the Guangdong province near Hong Kong, which has a population of 85 million. The airline said that it will entice the citizens living in Greater Bay to commence their journey from Hong Kong. Yau said the potential of the Greater Bay area is huge, but Hong Kong aviation industry was not doing enough for them in the past.
Yau also mentioned the airport competitions in the region and believed Hong Kong International Airport has the advantages of more international routes, compared to Guangzhou, China and Shenzhen, China — the neighboring cities of Hong Kong.
Earlier, Yau said the carrier aligns itself as a “Value Carrier” — an airline that places itself between being a traditional and a low-cost carrier. The airline could consider providing more options to its customers’ amenities in the future, such as in-flight meals.
In the meantime, Cathay Pacific has revealed its passenger capacity in October was only approximately 10% of pre-pandemic. The government is determined to carry out a “zero covid” policy before opening its border. Although the Covid-19 cases remain very low in Hong Kong, the city is still implementing tough travel restrictions. Most travelers who come to Hong Kong need to take 14 or 21 days quarantine before entering the city.
After 22 months of the pandemic, Cathay Pacific is not out of the woods and said October was “more challenging”. The strict travel restrictions have left the aviation industry behind, but the government has no sign of lifting its rules.