Hong Kong Airlines says it is working to consolidate and optimise its network and fleet, in response to reports that it could cut a third of its aircraft as it faces mounting financial pressures.

“Hong Kong Airlines aims to improve our structure to boost revenue, manage costs and achieve higher productivity,” it tells FlightGlobal.

"We are working on consolidating and optimising our network and fleet. We will deploy our resources to routes with higher demand. At the same time, we will continue to explore opportunities to launch new destinations in various markets."

The South China Morning Post had reported that the cash-strapped airline is studying plans to transfer some of its aircraft to main shareholders HNA Group, return them to lessors, or to scrap them. The restructuring could see it cut its fleet from 38 to 28, largely through the removal of Airbus A330-200s.

Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer shows that HKA has 21 A330s, 11 A320s and six A350s in service, while three A350s are in storage. It also has a further 27 aircraft on order – 11 A350-900s, nine A330-300s, one A320 and six Boeing 777 Freighters.

Last week, Hong Kong’s Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) said that it is “gravely concerned” about claims against the airline for recovery of arrears in court, and requested that HKA “explain the situation”.

“ATLA would consider the information to be submitted by HKA and would continue to keep in view the development and take necessary follow-up action(s) on the matter,” it added.

This came after reports that lessor AerCap and trust provider Wilmington Trust are seeking to recover close to HK$150 million ($19.1 million) from the airline in unpaid lease rentals for a combined eight aircraft.

There have also been reports that Cathay Pacific is studying the possibility of taking minority stakes in HKA and Hong Kong Express, although Cathay has since only confirmed discussions with HKE.

"Hong Kong Airlines is here to stay and committed to sustaining our long-term growth. We have and will remain open to discussions with strong strategic investors," says the airline.

Source: Cirium Dashboard