Hong Kong startup Greater Bay Airlines has slowed down its growth plans and has not even set a launching date due to the pandemic-related quarantined restrictions. Despite having been granted an Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and seemingly having it all ready to go, we will have to wait longer to see the new airline in the air.
Greater Bay Airlines, a startup from Hong Kong that plans to operate with a Boeing 737-800 fleet, has had to scale back its growth plans and has not set a date and destination for its first flight. Hong Kong’s tight restrictions due to COVID-19 are impacting the carrier’s plans.
On Friday, Algernon Yau, Greater Bay Airlines’ CEO, said Hong Kong would need to relax its travel restrictions and requirements (like two weeks of hotel quarantine on arrival in the city) before the airline could commit to a launching date and destination.
As reported by Reuters,
“I think we would need around three months in advance,” Yau said when speaking about launching operations and gaining airport slots.
Despite the lack of certainty regarding the travel restrictions in Hong Kong, Greater Bay Airlines has received its second Boeing 737-800 earlier this week.
On March 15, the airline received its second aircraft, which is now on the Hong Kong register with the registration B-KJB.
Algernon Yau said,
“I want to sincerely thank the team members of Greater Bay Airlines, our business partners, and the regulatory authorities concerned, who worked closely and supportively together on the aircraft readiness during this difficult period. This is encouraging and exciting news to us, and the recent granting of the ATLA license represents another big step forward for the airline.”
while mr. Yau has previously said he would have liked to have seven jets in operations by the end of 2022, that is very unlikely to happen. Instead, Greater Bay Airlines believes it will operate with a fleet composed of three aircraft this year. Maybe by late 2023, the airline could have up to seven units, he added.
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The airline is also eyeing a possible order with Boeing or Airbus for up to 30 narrowbody Boeing 737 MAX or Airbus A321neo aircraft.
Hong Kong’s airline industry has been deeply impacted by ongoing travel restrictions. Photo: Getty Images.
Is Hong Kong close to easing COVID-19 travel restrictions?
Hong Kong has had one of the strictest COVID-19 restrictions worldwide in the last couple of years as it aims to become “COVID zero,” with mixed success in terms of overall infections due to a recent surge of COVID-19 cases.
In the next few days, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, may have an update regarding the easing of pandemic restrictions due to pressure from residents and industry.
Earlier this week, Lam said,
“The reason why I think the time has come is not that the number of cases has come down significantly – they are actually now at the high-level plateau in public-health terms – but I have a very strong feeling that people’s tolerance is fading .”
Hong Kong’s restrictions have particularly impacted the airline industry. Cathay Pacific, the city’s flag carrier, flew just 2% of its pre-pandemic traffic numbers in 2021, and it has been operating at a loss of around US$128 million a month since February.
Would you like to travel onboard Greater Bay Airlines? Let us know in the comments.
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