Hong Kong authorities have taken the
first step towards granting CR Airways and start-up carrier Hong Kong Express
Airways traffic rights to operate to cities in China.
Statements on the Hong Kong
Government website say Hong Kong’s Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) has
granted the two regional airlines five-year licenses effective 5 April to
operate on select routes into China.
Hong Kong Express, which lodged its
application with ATLA in October 2004, has been granted permission to transport
passengers, cargo and mail from Hong Kong to select destinations in China using
Embraer 170s or any other aircraft type listed under its air operator’s
certificate (AOC), says the Government.
Routes it is permitted to apply for
are from Hong Kong to 15 cities in China: Shenzhen, Shantou, Fuzhou, Wenzhou,
Ningbo, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Zhengzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Wuhan, Changsha,
Guangzhou, Zhanjiang and Haikou.
Hong Kong Express CEO Andrew Tse
says in a separate statement: “This latest development effectively confirms our
status as Hong Kong’s newest airline.
“With our licence we are well on
track in preparations of taking delivery of our first aircraft in July.”
GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS)
is to lease Hong Kong Express four Embraer 170s, three to be delivered in the second
half of 2005 and one in the first half of 2006. Helicopter operator Heli Hong Kong, which started in 1996, is responsible for
establishing Hong Kong Express.
Until now Dragonair has been the only Hong Kong-designated
carrier on many of the routes into China even though the China-Hong Kong air
services agreement now allows Hong Kong to have two designated carriers.
While Hong Kong Express is free to seek traffic
rights to 15 cities, ATLA also this month granted CR Airways a five-year licence
effective from April.
CR Airways is a regional carrier based in Hong Kong
operating a Bombardier CRJ200. It is now free to seek traffic rights to 10
cities in China, specifically Guilin, Haikou, Changsha, Tianjin, Sanya, Wuhan,
Hangzhou, Kunming, Nanjing and Chongqing.
According to the statement from the Hong Kong Government
CR Airways applied in February this year and is permitted to transport
passengers but, unlike with Hong Kong Express, there is no mention of cargo and
CR Airways currently only has one CRJ200 which it has
used for services from Hong Kong to Vietnam and the Philippines. Its
CEO, Kenneth Thong, declined comment today when asked by ATI if it plans to get more aircraft to aid its China expansion.