GREATER Bay Airlines is preparing for its first commercial route with two chartered flights from Hong Kong to Bangkok on July 9 and 16, followed the new carrier’s first scheduled service to the Thai capital on July 23.
The move comes despite a seven-day mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals in Hong Kong and continuing border controls in mainland China as authorities struggle to minimise Covid outbreaks.
Flight and hotel packages will be available via travel agents at around HK20,000 (about US$2,548) per person that also covers quarantine on return to Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported.
Greater Bay Airlines chief executive Algernon Yau told the Post that regional routes to Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea would be the first phase of flight operations followed by routes to mainland China.
China’s continuing border controls due to Covid-19 have delayed the GBA’s expansion plans but the new airline is still aiming to fill a gap left by the closure of Cathay Dragon.
Yau said plans include connecting Hong Kong with Belt and Road destinations such as Kazakhstan and Pakistan followed by connections to Africa. The Belt and Road initiative is aimed at connecting China’s neighbouring countries with infrastructure and economic projects to enhance trade and development.
Cathay Pacific’s chief executive Augustus Tang also revealed plans to hire 4,000 staff this year as part of a recruitment campaign to take on a total of 8,000 workers by the end of 2023. The plan includes the hiring of 700 pilots and 2,000 cabin crew, Tang told the Post.
Singapore Airlines is planning to recruit about 2,000 cabin crew this year in a bid to replace staff who left during the two years of pandemic lockdowns. More than 800 recruits have been selected since March, the Post reported, but there are no plans to hire pilots.