Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAD) has banned low-cost carrier HK Express from adding new flights and destinations to its network, as well as from receiving any new aircraft until further notice.
According to a CAD spokesperson, the penalty was the harshest that could be meted out to an airline and still keep its air operating certificate, the South China Morning Post reports. The punishment follows the budget airline’s cancellation of dozens of flights during China’s Golden Week holiday in late September/early October – when huge numbers of people travel – affecting about 2,000 travellers.
A timeframe of about six months appears to be in place for the ban, though the Post reports that the CAD will consider lifting the ban only when it is satisfied sufficient steps have been taken to avoid a repeat incident in the future. The airline will have monthly meetings with the authority to report on the performance of its improvement measures.
The Air Transport Licensing Authority has, however, renewed its approval of the airline’s official licence, which is valid for another five years.
In a statement following the ban, the airline said it has “reviewed various aspects of its business including its senior management team, internal communications, enterprise risk management, crew trainer resourcing and customer service, and has developed concrete improvement measures to enhance its operations”.
A number of the airline’s top executives, including CEO Andrew Cowen, have since left the airline, with former Hong Kong Airlines CCO, Li Dianchun, taking over as President last month. Both Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express are part of the HNA Group, which also includes mainland Chinese carrier, Hainan Airlines.
Current flights are expected to remain unaffected, however the future of its upcoming service to Kumamoto, which is scheduled to launch on November 16, remains uncertain.