Hong Kong’s CR Airways has signed a memorandum of understanding with Boeing for the purchase of 10 787 widebodies and 30 737-800 narrowbodies, as China’s Hainan Airlines continues to negotiate the purchase of a majority stake in the regional carrier, writes Nicholas Ionides.

The MoU was signed in Hong Kong and if a firm agreement is concluded it will radically change the focus of the small airline, which currently only has three Bombardier regional jets that mainly serve secondary destinations in China.

China’s fourth-largest airline, Hainan Airlines, is seeking to acquire 60% of CR Airways, but there are questions about whether this will be possible due to ownership and control restrictions in bilateral air services agreements.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, but it negotiates its own air services accords with other countries and these generally specify that its airlines must be effectively owned and controlled by Hong Kong nationals.

CR Airways is wholly owned by Hong Kong businessman Robert Yip, who is a key shareholder in a company known as China Rich Holdings. Hainan Airlines group chairman Chen Feng recently took over as CR Airways’ chairman.

Source: Flight International