The arrival of a direct low-cost rival in the form of Jetstar Hong Kong would be a major irritant for incumbent Cathay Pacific Airways on many key routes.
The birth of Jetstar Hong Kong has been anything but easy. Although the carrier applied for its air operator's certificate in July 2012, it has yet to receive this key clearance.
Throughout Jetstar Hong Kong's long gestation, it has faced powerful opposition to getting off the ground. Much of this has stemmed from its key overseas shareholders, China Eastern Airlines and Qantas Airways.
In a 2012 interview with Flightglobal Pro's sister publication Airline Business, Cathay Pacific chief executive John Slosar said that it would be unfair if two non-Hong Kong designated carriers were given the green light to start a low-cost carrier based at its bastion hub Chek Lap Kok.
A source close to Hong Kong lawmakers has also told Flightglobal Pro that fear of foreign control is a major consideration in the Hong Kong government's deliberations on the proposed carrier.
Throughout 2013, Jetstar Hong Kong has taken every opportunity to burnish its local credentials. In the January statement announcing the appointment of Howard Cheung as chief financial officer, the carrier explicitly stated that he is a "Hong Kong local".
One month later, it hired another Hong Kong native, Edward Lau, as its chief executive. Finally, in June, news of the Shun Tak deal came about. Throughout, Jetstar Hong Kong has striven to state the benefits that its existence will bring in terms of jobs, and also stressed its determination to offer low fares.
In move that could end up being pivotal for its prospects, Jetstar Hong Kong announced in June that local conglomerate Shun Tak Holdings would join as a one-third shareholder. This reduces the stakes of incumbent shareholders - Qantas and China Eastern - also to one-third each.
The most recent development in the saga of what could become Hong Kong's first LCC is the gazetting of the carrier's application for an air transport licence by the country's government. Proponents and opponents (Cathay has made clear that it will be one) have two weeks to share their views on the merits of the new carrier.
The end result could be a green light for Jetstar Hong Kong, or the government could hold more consultations.
If the Jetstar Hong Kong deal does move forward, it will add a key LCC element that is largely lacking on greater China routes from Hong Kong - and pressuring incumbent Cathay.
FlightMaps Analytics shows that the route with the highest capacity from Hong Kong is to Taipei Taoyuan. Five full service carriers serve on this route, with Cathay Pacific and regional subsidiary Dragonair accounting for over 45% of capacity. Notably, not a single LCC serves this route.
On the Hong Kong-Shanghai route, Dragonair and Cathay account for nearly 58% of capacity. Of the five other carriers on the route, only Spring Airlines is an LCC, with 7.2% of capacity on the route.
On the Hong Kong-Beijing route, FlightMaps again shows not a single LCC, with Dragonair and Cathay providing 57% of capacity. The balance is provided by major Chinese airlines.
Jetstar Hong Kong's ambitions go far beyond these cities. A document related to the carrier's gazetting lists over 100 routes that the carrier has applied for, including over 50 in greater China. The remainder routes are largely to Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia.
Given its backers and apparent plans, the launch of Jetstar Hong Kong would be a true revolution for air travel from Hong Kong.