Hainan Airlines is considering buying a stake in Hong Kong-based regional
carrier CR Airways.
sources in Hong Kong confirm that Hainan, which recently said it hopes to list
its shares on the Hong
Kong stock exchange next year, has been
looking closely at CR and a deal may be near. It is not clear how big the stake
CR executive contacted by ATI
declined to comment but it is known that a codeshare agreement was recently negotiated
between CR and Hainan, covering flights between Hong Kong and both Haikou and
Sanya on Hainan Island. Hainan Airlines is based at Haikou.
codeshare agreement is expected to take effect next year. CR already serves the
two Chinese destinations. Hainan does not currently serve Hong Kong but has long sought to
fly to it.
Hainan is China’s
fourth largest airline group. It has considered investing in a regional jet
operation in Hong
Kong in the past but no deals were
Airways is an independent regional carrier owned by Hong Kong businessman Robert Yip,
who is a key shareholder in a company known as China Rich Holdings.
currently operates two 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200s and one larger CRJ700.
Another CRJ700 is due to be added soon.
carrier operates regular services to six secondary cities in China
as well as three in the Philippines.
It also has route licences to serve many more secondary destinations in China.
has been seeking new investors for some time. Last year it was reported that
Victor Li, son of billionaire businessman Li Ka-shing,
was considering buying a stake.
Hainan executives could not be
reached for comment.