Greater Bay Airlines lands licence

Permit grants new airline approval to fly China and Asia Pacific destinations from Hong Kong. GBA seen as contender to Cathay Pacific’s commercial dominance in region

A NEW airline based in southern China’s Greater Bay has been granted a licence to operate scheduled air services between Hong Kong and 104 routes.

Greater Bay Airlines (GBA) secured approval from Hong Kong’s Air Transport Licensing Authority to fly routes covering mainland China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and destinations across Asia Pacific.

The five-year permit comes as work continues on a third runway at Hong Kong International Airport and after Beijing approved more low-altitude flights from Shenzhen covering Macau, Hong Kong, and Zhuhai the main cities in the Greater Bay area linked by a bridge and sea tunnel.

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Greater Bay Airlines is the brainchild of property developer Bill Wong who also owns Shenzhen-based Donghai Airlines. GBA has three Boeing 737-800s on lease and plans to have a fleet of more than 30 aircraft by 2026.

GBA poses a commercial threat to Hong Kong’s traditional flag carrier, Cathay Pacific, which has been hit hard by both the Covid downturn and the repercussions of the 2019 social unrest in the city.

The new airline is reportedly preparing to recruit pilots from Cathay Dragon, the regional subsidiary of Cathay Pacific, which ceased operations after business restructuring. Algernon Yau moved from Cathay Dragon to head GBA.

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“This is one of the most important milestones of a new airline entrant in Hong Kong,” Yau said after the licence approval was announced on Monday.

“With the licence granted by ATLA, it means that we can expedite preparation and confirmation of other regulatory requirements and launch preparations, such as applying for operating permits from different aviation authorities of places we plan to fly to.

“We are excited to bring a new airline choice to customers, at a time when travellers are yearning for the opportunity to fly again soon. GBA is committed to contributing to the continual aviation development of Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area.

“The airline industry helps generate trade, promote tourism, and create more employment opportunities for Hong Kong people. We look forward to the launch our inaugural service soon.”

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