Hong Kong aviation analyst Alisa Chan is explaining how Greater Bay Airlines may have gained benefits from the suspension of Cathay Dragon.
Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific (CX) has announced its corporate restructuring. It was ceasing Cathay Dragon(KA) operations on the 21st of October 2020 and sacking all of its 2,500 staffers.
This means the end of Cathay Dragon after its 35 years of history.
The history of Cathay Dragon airlines
Cathay Dragon was a Hong Kong-based wholly-owned subsidiary of Cathay Pacific. The operation offered scheduled regional passenger and cargo services to 49 destinations in Mainland China and elsewhere in Asia. Destinations in Asia included Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and more (57, including codeshare agreements).Source : Swire Pacific Annual Report 2019.
The airline operated a fleet of over 40 A320-family and A330 aircraft.
Cathay Dragon had 16 A321neos on order, and those will now be going to Cathay Pacific. Cathay Pacific may start operating narrow-body aircraft after the business recovery.
In 2019, Cathay Pacific operated a wide-body fleet composed of 17 Airbus A330, 27 Airbus A350 XWB, 4 Boeing 747 aircraft, and 40 Boeing 777 aircraft.
Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary low cost carrier Hong Kong Express are planning to seek regulatory approval to operate most of Cathay Dragon’s routes.
The government has mentioned different airlines are welcome to apply for the traffic rights. There may be a possibility that Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary to operate the route under wet lease. Cathay Pacific has been doing wet lease flights for Cathay Dragon for years. When required the wetlease has included KUL (Kuala Lumpur) and KHH (Taiwan) flights.
Greater Bay Airlines
The startup Greater Bay Airlines has now been in the process of recruiting since 2020. The airline has filed the requisite paperwork for an air operator’s certificate (AOC) with Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department. The airline is also expressing an interest in the Cathay Dragon’s routes.
Greater Bay Airlines plans to operate as a budget carrier with a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft. No specific routes have been announced yet.
Greater Bay Airlines key personnel
The key man behind the Greater Bay Airlines is mainland property tycoon Bill Wong Cho-bau. This is also the person behind *Donghai Airlines, a Shenzhen-based airline. Donghai Airlines operates primarily short routes between China and Southeast Asia.
*Greater Bay Airlines was previously established as Donghai Airlines in 2010.
According to company registry records the airline appointed an all-star list of directors on December 2020, including – SF Express chairman Wang Wei, and former Hong Kong Airport Authority chief executive Stanley Hui Hon-chung.
Donghai Airlines operates a fleet of 23 Boeing 737-800s plus. The airline has orders for 25 737 MAX aircraft on the books.
Greater Bay Airlines first flight
Greater Bay Airlines plans to launch its first flight next summer. Perhaps the airline could coincide the timing with a recovery in travel demand in the post-coronavirus period?
The airline has applied to operate 104 routes between Hong Kong and multiple cities, with nearly half are to the mainland and multiple cities in Japan, South Korea and Thailand. The routes cover passenger, cargo and mail.
But generally speaking, launching a new airline to a fully operational status normally takes as long as two years. That by itself should not be a problem considering that air travel demand is not expected to fully return until 2024. The actual operation of the Greater Bay Airlines remains to be seen. Yet it is not too early to take the new airline seriously.
South Pacific Airline – a failed Hong Kong airline
The Hong Kong startup airline South Pacific Airline was founded in 2017. It was closed down in early 2019. There were rumors the airline would operate flights to destinations such as Fiji, New Caledonia and other islands in the South Pacific.
Greater Bay Airlines staffing and aircraft order
Greater Bay Airlines has employed staff previously employed by Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines. The airline has also placed an order for an Airbus A340 aircraft, which was previously in use by Virgin Atlantic.
Featured Image: Boeing.
What are your thoughts about Greater Bay Airlines? You can contact the article’s author Alisa Chan through LinkedIn below.
Alisa Chan, Aviation Analyst and Journalist
Alisa has University teaching and in-house training experience in MNC organizations. She had a corporate training background having spent over 15 years in the aviation industry. And when she isn’t in the classroom, you can find her in boardrooms, speaking to groups, and writing papers. Born and grew up in Hong Kong, Alisa is fluent in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. She had her master’s degree in Communications from the University of South Australia. You can contact Alisa directly at LinkedIn.