MIAMI – Greater Bay Airlines (HB) has announced it had secured an air operator’s certificate (AOC), a crucial step toward starting commercial flights.

The airline wants to begin operations with three leased Boeing 737-800 planes, according to a statement. The business still needs an air transport license for commercial flights.

Subject to market conditions, the startup intends to have seven aircraft in operation by the end of 2022 and more than 30 by 2026.

Greater Bay Airlines will compete against Cathay Pacific Airways (CX), the financial center’s leading carrier, and Hong Kong Airlines (HX), a much smaller carrier.

Greater Bay Airlines announced that it had requested permission to fly to 104 destinations around the area, including mainland China, North Asia, and Southeast Asia, pending market recovery.

Uncertain Start of Operations amid COVID-19

During the pandemic, passenger travel to and from Hong Kong has come to a halt due to quarantine restrictions of up to three weeks on arrival as the city pursues a COVID-19 eradication strategy that it believes will allow for two-way travel with mainland China.

Passenger traffic at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) in August was barely 4% of what it was in 2019, according to airport statistics.

The new airline, which bills itself as a “discount carrier,” said it was too early to say when its first commercial flights would take place. It further stated that any charter flights would be subject to regulatory approval.

Per Reuters, HB is directed by Algernon Yau, who previously oversaw Cathay’s regional airline Cathay Dragon before it was shut down last year as part of a restructuring strategy.

Featured image: Hong Kong International Airport – Photo: Hong Kong Airport Media. Article source: