Since last year, one of Hong Kong’s largest airlines – Hong Kong Airlines – has been in financial troubles for, among other reasons, over-investing in its expansion.
The troubles were serious enough for the airline to be warned by the local governing body, the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB). To improve its situation, Hong Kong Airlines started scaling back its operations earlier this year.
Today, the airline announced that it will be doing so further by – among other reasons – cutting its flights to Los Angeles.
Hong Kong Airlines Warned by the Government
Since Hong Kong Airlines’ financial troubles surfaced in late 2018, the airline has reassured its passengers numerous times that its operations remained unaffected.
While that has been largely true, the airline has also started scaling back its operations by reducing its number of active aircraft as well as frequencies on some routes. The airline has also been in the spotlight of Hong Kong’s authorities which have been concerned by its situation.
The Hong Kong Government announced today that – with the airline’s situation showing no signs of improvement – the THB as well as Civil Aviation Department (CAD) held a meeting with Hong Kong Airlines’ management on November 1, 2019, where it:
…once again asked HKA to take immediate and concrete steps with a view to effectively improving their financial situation shortly.
Hong Kong Airlines to Scale Down Operations by 6%
In response to the meeting with the THB and the CAD, Hong Kong Airlines published plans to further reduce its operations. Perhaps the most notable feature of the plan is the airline’s plan to cut what could be considered its flagship route, Hong Kong – Los Angeles, starting from next February.
The last rotation between Hong Kong and Los Angeles (flights HX68 and HX69) will operate on February 6, 2020, landing back in Hong Kong on February 7, 2020.
Starting from February 7, 2020, the airline will offer no flights to the United States. Vancouver, a city with a large population of Hong Kong citizens, will be the airline’s last destination in North America.
Hong Kong Airlines has also announced that it will:
…continue to adjust its frequencies to Vancouver, Osaka, Okinawa, Sapporo, Tokyo, Seoul, Haikou, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Bangkok in response to changing market demands.
In total, the airline expects to cut the scale of its operations by about 6% from the current state.
The government is, for now, satisfied with the steps Hong Kong Airlines is planning to take. According to THB’s spokesman, the organization believes that:
…the flight consolidation plan is reasonable and necessary, and expect this will help improve the operational situation of HKA.
Understandably, though, the authorities are not letting the airline off the hook yet, with the spokesman also adding that:
We will continue to closely monitor the financial situation of HKA, and will consider taking further action in the light of the circumstances.
Before flying with the airline for the first time back in April 2019, my expectations weren’t that high. However, after taking four flights – two shorter ones between Japan and Hong Kong, and two long-hauls on the soon-to-be-discontinued Los Angeles route, I was pleasantly surprised.
As such, I find it very unfortunate that the airline is in financial difficulties, and that it is now cancelling the very route that I had the chance to take earlier this year.
All I can hope for is that Hong Kong Airlines will, through consolidating its network among other things, manage to improve its financial performance. Of course, I also hope that the quality of its service will not suffer in the process.