China’s fourth largest carrier Hainan Airlines is about to take over
fledgling Hong Kong carrier CR Airways and use its traffic rights to launch new
services with newly acquired Boeing 737-800s and later Boeing 787s.
On 20 December CR Airways will hold
a signing ceremony with Boeing in Hong Kong to announce an order for 737-800s and 787s, according
to a CR Airways invitation to the event. The invitation and a CR Airways
official decline to disclose how many aircraft CR Airways will order.
But some of the CR Airways 737-800s
will be aircraft Hainan
Airlines ordered earlier and which are switching to CR Airways, according to
the CR Airways official, who wishes to remain anonymous.
The Hong Kong carrier is taking over some Hainan 737-800s so it can get aircraft
sooner and launch new services to mainland China and other countries in Asia quickly. “We will be competing
directly against Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair,” says the official.
Hainan Airlines’ takeover of CR Airways
has yet to be completed but the two sides are “working on the transaction” and
once completed CR Airways and Hainan
Airlines will be re-branded Grand China Air, adds the official.
A source at CR Airways told ATI last month that Hainan Airlines Group chairman and president Chen Feng had become chairman of CR
Airways. But at that time
CR Airways officials denied a Hainan Airlines takeover
Hainan Airlines has, for some time, been seeking to expand internationally but its efforts have
been hampered by the fact it is based in southern China’s Hainan Island, a relatively remote part of China with little demand for
It also has looked to make Beijing its international hub but the move to
takeover CR Airways means Hong Kong may become its main international
CR Airways currently operates two
Bombardier CRJ200s and consummated a deal earlier this year to purchase two
Bombardier CRJ700s. It currently operates from Hong Kong to six cities in China as well as to three cities in the Philippines.
Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper recently reported that CR
Airways has been applying for traffic rights to other countries in Asia.