Jetstar Hong Kong is continuing to work with the Hong Kong government on getting off the ground but it is unclear when a hearing will be held to determine if the proposed carrier will be granted an operating licence.
The newest franchise in the Jetstar group of airlines was launched by Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce in March 2012. However, it has met strong resistance from local carriers Cathay Pacific and Hong Kong Airlines, who both argue Jetstar Hong Kong does not meet the territory’s principle place of residence test as all the major decisions will be made at Jetstar’s headquarters in Melbourne.
Jetstar group chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka says there is ongoing dialogue with the Hong Kong government but declined to offer a likely date for a hearing.
“There is lots of back and forth with the Hong Kong government. The process is moving but we don’t have firm dates that we are ready to talk to you at this point,” Hrdlicka told reporters after a business lunch in Sydney on Friday.
Initially a joint-venture between Qantas and China Eastern, Hong Kong-based Shun Tak Holdings was brought on as a co-investor in June 2013.
Jetstar has said previously its Hong Kong franchise had its own board and local management, with Shun Tak’s Pansy Ho the chairman.
Qantas recently reduced its shareholder voting rights in Jetstar Hong Kong to 24.5 per cent, leaving China Eastern with 24.5 per cent and Shun Tak, which appointed two more members to the board, with the majority 51 per cent shareholder voting rights.
“Changes to the voting rights and the appointment of additional board members from the local investor were made to further cement the Hong Kong leadership and governance at a board level,” a Jetstar spokeswoman told Fairfax Media on September 1.
Faced with lengthy delays in getting off the ground, Jetstar Hong Kong has sold six A320 aircraft that were delivered from Airbus, with three others sitting on the ground in Toulouse racking up storage fees and leasing charges.
Hrdlicka conceded the process had taken “much longer than we expected that it would”.
“The travelling public however in Hong Kong have clearly signalled that they are fed up with paying high fares relative to their colleagues around the region,” Hrdlicka said in her address.
“They want the opportunities to travel more, they want the opportunities to experience parts of the world that they otherwise are not going to be able to afford to experience. It is our job to ensure that that happens.
“So Jetstar Hong Kong is very focused on making sure that the compelling case for change is heard, understood and that ultimately flows through to the right decisions in government.”