A mainland Chinese business mogul has revealed grand plans for Hong Kong’s fifth major carrier. As COVID-19 causes untold destruction on the aviation industry, Greater Bay Airlines has taken the intrepid step to commence operations.

Greater Bay Airlines’ visionary is Bill Wong Cho-bau, who, according to the South China Morning Post, has already applied for an Air Operator Certificate. The Shenzhen-based “property tycoon” is the owner of Donghai Airlines, which has an extensive domestic and short-haul international network.

What Would Greater Bay Airlines Look Like?

In a similar fashion to Donghai Airlines, sources have told SCMP that Greater Bay Airlines is looking to establish a short-haul international network. From their Hong Kong base, Greater Bay is likely to fly into China and nearby Asian destinations; these destinations are set to include Vietnam, South Korea and possibly Japan.

Furthermore, the same source told SCMP that Greater Bay will use Boeing 737-800 aircraft; although it remains unclear if the budget carrier will order 737 MAX aircraft, like Donghai Airlines.

Former Dragonair (Cathay Dragon) CEO, Stanley Hui Hon-Chung, has reportedly signed on to Greater Bay. Mr Hui has also held senior management positions at Hong Kong Airlines, according to The Standard.

Hong Kong’s aviation market is already competitive, with five airlines wishing to stake their claim. Whilst the future for Cathay Pacific is uncertain, Greater Bay is unlikely to provide direct competition. Budget carrier Hong Kong Express will most likely be Greater Bay’s direct competition, on key routes across Asia.

Hong Kong Aviation Market

As with any airline launch, regulatory red tape and competition from existing carriers will mean that this venture will not be instantaneous. Estimates from the South China Morning Post have indicated that Greater Bay may take two years to become operational.

In 2015 a planned collaboration between Qantas and China Eastern Airlines collapsed, after Jetstar Hong Kong failed to gain approval from the Hong Kong CAD. At the time, Jetstar Hong Kong faced major opposition from incumbent future competitors; these competitors were the likes of Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express.

Times may have indeed changed, but many are uncertain as to whether the elusive Hong Kong aviation market can handle a fifth carrier.