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Mainland start-up vies for Hong Kong AOC

written by Sandy Milne | August 11, 2020

Hong Kong could headquarter yet another airline, if island authorities sign off on an AOC (Wikicommons).

Hong Kong’s roster of major passenger airlines could soon swell to five, following revelations that a mainland start-up has applied for an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC).

In recent days, the island’s Civil Aviation Department revealed that a submission from Greater Bay Airlines was made to the agency last month, confirming that the bid is still being processed at the time of writing.

An investigation by the South China Morning Post released yesterday also indicates that mainland investors are footing the bill for the Greater Bay bid, with Donghai Airlines tycoon Bill Wong Cho-bau holding a controlling stake in the venture.

However, this hasn’t stopped former Cathay executives from helping the airline “take shape”. Those poached – according to the report – include Stanley Hui Hon-Chun, former Dragonair and Airport Authority chief.

Citing anonymous sources, the SCMP report adds that the airline is leaning towards an LCC model focused on the south-east and north-east Asian markets. Greater Bay also allegedly intends to fly a Boeing 737 fleet. Cho-bau’s Shenzhen-based operator relies on a fleet of 23 older-generation 737s and has 25 737 MAX aircraft on order.

Cathay Pacific chairman Patrick Healy told the Post earlier this year that the emergence of a Hong Kong-based airline competitor would not impact the group’s restructuring.

“When we think about competition we don’t just think about Hong Kong AOCs,” he said. “We compete with 100-plus carriers coming in and out of Hong Kong.”


However, obtaining regulatory approval to operate out of Hong Kong can be a difficult and drawn-out process – as Australian carrier Jetstar found out in its 2015 bid to launch a HK-hosted subsidiary.


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