Hong Kong grants Greater Bay Airlines status to open talks with foreign countries

Hong Kong grants Greater Bay Airlines status to open talks with foreign countries

Greater Bay Airlines has received designated status from local authorities to open negotiations with foreign countries to fly 104 routes. (South China Morning Post photo)
Greater Bay Airlines has received designated status from local authorities to open negotiations with foreign countries to fly 104 routes. (South China Morning Post photo)

HONG KONG: Greater Bay Airlines was awarded designated status from the Hong Kong government, allowing the company to open negotiations with foreign countries to fly 104 routes, the head of the start-up carrier told the South China Morning Post on Tuesday.

Algernon Yau Ying-wah, the airline's chief executive, confirmed that the company had received the official recognition, coming several months after local authorities granted it a five-year licence to operate scheduled commercial flights.

"This decision puts us on the map with overseas authorities and allows us to commence talks and conduct the necessary procedures with them to fly our 104 routes," he said.

But Yau noted it would be challenging for the company to launch its first flight until after July 1, citing the number of procedural hoops involved.

He added that the date would not be good from a market-strategic perspective, as all eyes would be focused on the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese rule and the prospective visit by state leaders.

The airline chief said the company aimed to first open routes to Southeast Asia, with a focus on popular holiday destinations for Hongkongers such as Thailand and Malaysia.

The next phase would involve launching flights to cities in mainland China, such as Beijing and Shanghai, Yau said, noting that such locations involved additional procedures.

When asked about the airline's preparations for opening flight routes, the chief executive said the company had filled most of its pilot positions and was ready to go.

Despite not having held any formal talks with Chief Executive-elect John Lee Ka-chiu's incoming administration, Yau also said he believed the creation of a Transport and Logistics Bureau as part of a proposed government overhaul would "focus minds and efforts" on supporting and developing the aviation industry.

"Transport is a big area with land, sea and air parts, we welcome the setting up of a new bureau which would hopefully boost the aviation industry," he said.

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