Struggling Hong Kong Airlines is reigning in its ambitions in a move that could see both Airbus and Boeing take a hit.
The airline’s president, Yang Jianhong, said yesterday that it would replace orders for five Boeing 787-8s and sell two Boeing 737-300 freighters in favour of Airbus A330 and A320 aircraft. Mr Yang said the move aimed to cut costs by operating only one brand of aircraft.
Reports, however, also indicated that Hong Kong Airlines was planning to cancel its order for ten Airbus A380 superjumbo jets after it scrapped its business-class-only services to London — its only intercontinental route. Reuters quoted Mr Yang as saying the airline had decided to buy smaller jets instead of A380s, but the carrier later said no final decision had been made.
Hong Kong Airlines, with a fleet of just 26 aircraft, had made an aggressive push to challenge Cathay Pacific, raising eyebrows when it placed the 10-A380 order in January. Valued at US$3.6 billion, the deal was the largest outstanding order for the superjumbos in Asia.
But the airline’s ambitions have run up against economic reality, with the carrier failing to gain traction on its London route and recently shifting its focus back to regional services. Hong Kong’s aviation regulator, meanwhile, placed a limit on the carrier’s fleet earlier this month, saying the airline needed time to “catch up” with its expansion.