HK's CR Airways to launch Kunming service

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Hong Kong-based regional jet operator CR Airways plans to launch a scheduled passenger service to the Chinese city of Kunming at the end of this month, around the same time it expects to get its second Bombardier CRJ700.

Chief financial officer Kelly Cheng says that at the “end of October or beginning of November we will have the first flight [from Hong Kong] to Kunming”, adding that “it will be a scheduled service” but frequency has yet to be decided.

Kunming, the capital of southwest China’s Yunnan province, is one of five Chinese cities CR Airways recently gained traffic rights to serve, the others being Tianjin, Haikou, Sanya and Guilin.

It has since launched services to all these cities with the exception of Kunming and Tianjin. Cheng says services to the port city of Tianjin, near Beijing, are unlikely to start this year.

CR Airways also has traffic rights to Weizhou and Meixian but the carrier has been unable to launch services to these small Chinese cities because the airports there lack customs, immigration and quarantine facilities to process passengers from Hong Kong and overseas.

For the remainder of this year the carrier wants to focus on increasing frequency and building up its presence in the cities it already serves, says Cheng, adding that CR Airways plans to open more offices in mainland China.

She says currently most of CR Airways’ traffic comes from people in Hong Kong travelling to mainland China
but it wants to encourage more mainlanders to come to Hong Kong.

CR Airways currently has two CRJ200s and one CRJ700 but early in November it expects to take delivery of its second CRJ700.

It was originally expecting the second CRJ700 to arrive in mid-August but this aircraft is still in Copenhagen with the vendor, Danish carrier Maersk Air, which has “had to do a lot of work” to get it ready for delivery such as painting the CR Airways’ livery on it, says Cheng.

She says even though CR Airways currently only has three aircraft in Hong Kong these have “very low utilisation because we have insufficient numbers of pilots. We have hired some additional pilots and they are now at Bombardier in Montreal, Canada” undergoing training.