In early November, Hong Kong Airlines announced its plans to scale down its operations due to financial difficulties. On November 29, 2019, the airline announced further cuts including its plan to completely discontinue its transpacific operations.
In addition to that, the airline announce today that it will not be offering in-flight entertainment from December 2019 until further notice.
Hong Kong Airlines’ Financial Difficulties
As mentioned in my post about Hong Kong Airlines’ previous network reduction plans, the airline has been facing financial difficulties since late 2018. Since then, it has been warned by the Hong Kong authorities multiple time.
At the beginning of November 2019, the Transport and Housing Bureau as well as the Civil Aviation Department urged the airline to:
…take immediate and concrete steps with a view to effectively improving their financial situation shortly.
In response to that, Hong Kong Airlines decided to reduce its operations by about 6% overall, as well as to cut its last remaining US destination – Los Angeles – from February 7, 2020.
Unfortunately, the airline continues to face financial difficulties and – with the additional issues caused by the ongoing protests in Hong Kong – is struggling to survive.
According to South China Morning Post, it failed to pay November salaries of half of its staff on time. In addition to that, the airline announced its plans to further scale back its operations.
Hong Kong Airlines Cuts Its Last Transpacific Route and More
According to a press release from November 29, 2019, Hong Kong Airlines plans to cut three routes – to Vancouver, Ho Chi Minh, and Tianjin from February 2020. The airline explained the move with the following words:
Hong Kong Airlines has been reviewing its network strategy and will continue to focus on operating priority routes under the challenging business environment caused by the ongoing social unrest in Hong Kong. … To mitigate impact from the current situation, Hong Kong Airlines will further adjust its network…
Hong Kong Airlines’ flights to and from Vancouver will take off for the last time on February 10, 2020. With that, the airline will have no remaining transpacific routes.
The Tianjin flights will be suspended at the same time as well with the last Hong Kong – Tianjin flight departing on February 9, 2020, and the last Tianjin – Hong Kong flight departing on February 10, 2020.
Finally, Hong Kong Airlines’ flight to Ho Chi Minh will depart for the last time on February 19, 2020. The last flight in the other direction will depart on February 20, 2020.
Hong Kong Airlines Cuts In-Flight Entertainment
While the network reductions will help the airline optimize its financial performance in the next few months, they won’t solve the airline’s current cashflow problems.
It’s presumably because of those that the airline published a notice for its passengers today saying:
Hong Kong Airlines’ inflight entertainment system will be out of service from 1 December 2019 until further notice.
We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused to our customers. Hong Kong Airlines will work with our vendor to resume the service as soon as we can.
The reason behind the announcement is likely very simple – not offering in-flight entertainment will allow Hong Kong Airlines to save some cash. The airline will not have to pay for content or for earphones.
Alternatively, the airline already stopped for those and was simply cut off by the vendors.
While Hong Kong Airlines has been facing financial difficulties for more than a year now, the situation at the airline has been made worse by the drop in demand due to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.
The situation has forced the airline to plan for considerable capacity cuts in the coming months. Those cuts, however, don’t do much to help the airline solve its current cashflow problems. Hong Kong Airlines failed to pay half of its staff on time this month. In addition to that, it will not offer IFE from December until further notice.
Unfortunately, with neither the situation in Hong Kong nor the situation at the airline showing signs of improvement, its collapse might be inevitable. Still, I hope it will bounce back and – one day – start offering long-haul flights again.