Flight International Online news 10:00GMT: 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 was imminent.

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 international connections.

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 hub.

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.


Source: Flight International