Route licence objections force HK's Oasis to defer launch

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Hong Kong-based long-haul start-up carrier Oasis Hong Kong Airlines has deferred its planned November launch until at least March after objections were filed against its application for route licences.

CEO Stephen Miller says from Hong Kong that objections were filed with Hong Kong’s Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) by local regional jet operator CR Airways. He adds that CR Airways said in its filing that it believes new airlines should be required to operate charter services before they launch scheduled services.

An objection to a route licence application means ATLA needs to hold public hearings. Miller says he is meeting with ATLA at the weekend to discuss plans for a hearing, which he hopes will take place at the end of October.

“This has set us back and the [originally planned] November start date has disappeared,” says Miller. “It has put us back to the earliest March and possibly a little later than that.”

But he says “the investors have not been put off” and “I am encouraged” with the progress made in planning to date. In its application Oasis sought route licences to serve Berlin, Cologne/Bonn, London Gatwick and Milan in Europe, as well as Oakland and Chicago in the USA.

Macau’s Eagle Aviation also filed an objection with ATLA but has since withdrawn it, says Miller. Eagle Aviation is the parent company of a planned airline formerly branded WOW Macau that will be based in Macau, west of Hong Kong. Miller says Hong Kong’s main carrier, Cathay Pacific Airways, did not file a formal objection.

Oasis’ backers have said the carrier will be a “long-haul, low-cost” airline operating leased Boeing 747-400s, with high-density economy class seating and a small business class section. Miller says he expects to start with London Gatwick services, followed by US services and services to additional European destinations.

Its main shareholders have been identified as Raymond Lee, who is involved in the property market, and Allan Wong, chairman and group CEO of telephone manufacturer VTech Holdings. Miller, an aviation consultant, also has a small stake.