Hong Kong Startup Greater Bay Airlines Takes To The Skies

Hong Kong’s newest airline took to the skies for the first time this Saturday. Greater Bay Airlines launched its first commercial service to Thailand as it looks to compete with the city’s flagship airline Cathay Pacific. The airline has been granted permission to operate more than 100 routes until 2027 and plans to increase its network over the next few years gradually.

First flight

On July 23rd, Hong Kong’s startup carrier Greater Bay Airlines operated its first flight to Bangkok, finally launching operations after months of preparation. The launch was pretty low-key, with no fanfare and no media presence or official statement.


The Boeing 737-800 departed Hong Kong as flight HB660 at 10:40 and landed in Bangkok at 12:05 after flying for 2 hours and 25 minutes. According to The Standard, the flight was not fully booked, and only about a dozen travelers were seen checking in at the counters. The return flight HB661 departed at 13:37 and touched down in Hong Kong at 17:13.

A day before the launch, Jodie Lai, head of marketing and customer experience at Greater Bay Airlines, told the South China Morning Post,

“We are very happy to launch our first flight, as we hope to see planes in the air as an airline company. However, there have been a multitude of external factors we could not control along the way, and we will try our best to cooperate with the government’s pandemic measures. “


Greater Bay Airline’s Road to flight launch has been slightly longer due to pandemic-related delays. Despite receiving an AOC in October 2021, it had to slow down its progress, with Hong Kong’s tight restrictions affecting its plans.

But the carrier is hopeful that moving ahead, Hong Kong’s government will continue to relax traveling rules for tourism to flourish once again.

The Standard reports Lai as saying that she hopes the government could cancel or shorten the existing quarantine requirement for returnees under certain conditions, as it is one of the reasons citizens postpone their non-urgent traveling plans. Scrapping the quarantine measure could be a critical step in reviving the aviation and tourism sectors as well.

Future plans

The airline is hoping to fill the gap left behind by the closure of regional carrier Cathay Dragon, a subsidiary of the Cathay group. It has the financial backing of tycoon Bill Wong Cho-bau, who has pledged to invest HK $ 2 billion (US $ 258 million) in the carrier.

In February, Greater Bay Airlines obtained a five-year permit to operate commercial flights on 104 routes, covering destinations from mainland China to regional holiday hotspots like Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and others.

The airline is also looking to invest in future fleet expansion and is likely to go for either the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft or the Airbus A321neo.

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Source: The Standard, South China Morning Post

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