Hong Kong Airlines, which has been given till Saturday to get its financial affairs in order, has sought to reassure passengers that it is still operating as usual and remains committed to flying guests to their destinations safely.

In a post on its website, the airline addressed statements issued yesterday from Hong Kong’s Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) and the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB), which stated that the airline had until Saturday to get its financial affairs in order or face suspension of its flying licence.

“Hong Kong Airlines updates ATLA and the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB) regularly on our operation and financial improvement plan. We have addressed our financial situation by implementing cost-savings measures, while adjusting our operation from time to time to respond to changing market demand,” the airline said.

“As weak travel demand resulting from the social unrest in Hong Kong has continued to affect our business and revenue, Hong Kong Airlines has reduced its capacity and flights in the coming months as well as further consolidated its network under the challenging business environment.”

The airline has announced several rounds of cuts to its route network, including a plan to cease all flights to North America from February 2020.

Hong Kong Airlines has also posted a “Notice to all passengers” on its website, asking them to check their flight status at this link. It added that if a flight is cancelled, he/she can get a refund through the airline’s “Refund Application” service here.

“If your ticket was purchased through a travel agent or if you belong to a tour group, please contact your agent directly. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused,” the airline added.

A financial lifeline?

Hong Kong Airlines’ parent HNA Group has secured a four billion yuan (US$568 million) three-year loan from eight Chinese banks, with each providing 500 million yuan (US$71 million), according to a filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The filing says the money can be used for aviation fuel, aircraft supplies and materials, take-off and landing fees, staff salaries and aircraft leasing fees.

The banks are China Development Bank, The Export-Import Bank of China, Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Bank of Communications and Postal Savings Bank of China – all of which are major financial institutions in the country.

However, the filing did not specify whether the loan will be used for Hong Kong Airlines, only that it could be used for any of HNA’s affiliate airlines.

Hong Kong Airlines has so far not commented on the loan. It has said only: “Hong Kong Airlines is actively communicating with our shareholders and other stakeholders to meet the new requirements from ATLA as requested. We will remain professional and deliver our best customer service to all passengers.”

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific has contacted Hong Kong Airlines for comment.

Additional reporting by Jackie Chen