PANSY Ho, the daughter of Hong Kong- and Macau-based business magnate Stanley Ho, has been named chair of Jetstar Hong Kong, with the budget airline yesterday taking another significant step towards a launch at the end of the year.
The appointment of Ms Ho, the managing director of Jetstar HK stakeholder Shun Tak Holdings, boosts local representation on the board and came as the Hong Kong government yesterday gazetted the low-cost carrier’s application for an Air Transport Licence.
The new airline has cast a wide regional net by applying for unlimited frequency to scores of destinations in countries such as China, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philppines and Malaysia.
The gazetting of the application, which covers routes and bilateral air services, is now open for comment and potentially a hearing.
The airline has also said it is progressing well on a second crucial application for an air operators’ certificate and Jetstar chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka told The Australian recently she was “very confident” the airline would start service by the end of the year.
Shun Tak Holdings owns a third of Jetstar HK, with Qantas and China Eastern each holding equivalent stakes.
Jetstar had hoped to be flying by now but was stymied by complications arising from governmental changes and the fact original shareholders Qantas and China Eastern were not domiciled in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong authorities were reportedly worried the airline would be controlled from Sydney or Shanghai. Hong Kong does not have a limit on foreign ownership but requires an airline’s principal place of business to be local.
The appointment of local chief executive Edward Lau, the involvement of Shun Tak and now the appointment of Ms Ho are designed to boost the level of local expertise as the airline continues through the regulatory process.
Ms Ho said she was excited about the opportunities Jetstar Hong Kong will bring for local residents, businesses and the tourism industry.
” I am passionate about establishing Hong Kong’s truly local LCC and delivering low fares for this region,” she said in a statement. “The airline will open up travel opportunities and bring great economic benefits to Hong Kong.”
However, Jetstar HK is likely to be pipped at the post by Hong Kong Express, also 25 per cent owned by Shun Tak, which will be rebranded and launched as a budget airline in October.
A sister to Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express is majority owned by China’s Hainan Airlines Group, Hong Kong Express has been flying out of Hong Kong as a regional operator since 2006.
Jetstar HK says research shows eight out of 10 Hong Kong residents would welcome more low-cost carriers in Hong Kong, where the fledgling sector still accounts for just six per cent of flights at Hong Kong International Airport.
It expects to contribute up to $HK8 billion annually to the Hong Kong economy when fully operational and employ 600 people by the time it grows to 18 aircraft.
Lau pointed to the experience of another Qantas joint-venture, Jetstar Japan, as an example of the impact of low-cost carriers on the market. Jetstar Japan this week announced its 10th destination with twice daily services due to start in December to Takamatsu, on the island of Shikoku.
“Domestic air travel has risen in Japan for the first time in six years and airports such as Narita, Oita and Okinawa are experiencing record numbers of passengers attributed to the introduction of LCCs like Jetstar,” he said. “Jetstar Hong Kong is focussing on being this influential instigator of change in Hong Kong.”
Category: Hong Kong