Hong Kong Airlines will exit the Oceania market entirely from May 2019 when it ends nonstop flights to Auckland.
The airline confirmed its withdrawal from the Hong Kong-Auckland route in a statement on its website.
“Hong Kong Airlines will suspend its scheduled service between Hong Kong and Auckland from 22 May 2019 following a review of its network and an adjustment of its business strategy,” the statement said.
“Hong Kong Airlines thanks the governments in Hong Kong and New Zealand as well as our business partners and customers for their support to our Auckland service over the past years.
“The airline will continue to study the market closely and look for opportunities to serve New Zealand in the future.”
The last flight from Hong Kong to Auckland was scheduled for May 19, while the its last service from Auckland would be on May 21.
Hong Kong Airlines started flying daily to Auckland in November 2016 with two-class Airbus A330-200s featuring 24 angled lie-flat seats in business class and 259 economy class seats for a total of 283. The schedule has varied from 10 flights a week to five flights a week depending on the time of year.
It is the second carrier in recent times to drop flights to Auckland, after low-cost carrier Malaysia AirAsia X ended its Kuala Lumpur-Gold Coast-Auckland service on February 11 2019.
Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific dominate New Zealand-Hong Kong market
Hong Kong Airlines’ departure from Auckland will leave Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific as the only two airlines with nonstop flights between New Zealand and Hong Kong.
The two carriers operate a joint-venture alliance in the New Zealand-Hong Kong market, with up to three flights a day from Auckland and a seasonal service from Christchurch to the Special Administrative Region (SAR).
Hong Kong Airlines said it would offer affected passengers the option of changing to a different flight to Auckland, changing the ticket to a different destination, flying to Auckland on another carrier (subject to availability) or a full refund.
Its website was offering one-stop itineraries between New Zealand and Hong Kong via Australia on flights operated by Hong Kong Airlines’ alliance partner Virgin Australia.
Hong Kong Airlines said the network changes were part of an effort to better respond to market forces and operational conditions.
The decision to cease nonstop flights to Auckland followed the end of flights from Hong Kong to Cairns and the Gold Coast in October 2018. Hong Kong Airlines has also pared back ambitions to expand into other long-haul markets in Europe and North America in recent times.
Hong Kong Airlines is owned by Chinese company HNA, which has been undergoing a major corporate restructure and selling assets as part of efforts to reduce debt and improve its financial position.
HNA holds a 20 per cent stake in Virgin Australia and has a seat on the board.