Hong Kong Airlines loses three high-level executives

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  • Craig Bright

    Can’t be good news for the Hong Kong carrier’s ambitions to challenge Cathay Pacific, particularly on long-haul.



    Apparently it is now 7 senior ‘executives resigned and already gone.

    HNA group is not in my view going to go away and although temporarily financially embarrassed they are a very substantial quaze China government conglomerate ultimatly with deep pockets.

    Their airline business though is in trouble and their several mainland airline brands are selling aircraft to other carriers to raise cash, there have been 4 new A330s intended for HKA sitting at Airbus for most of this year and several deliveries of A350 -900 have been indefinitely postponed.
    Flight crew were recruited for these aircraft and are now being laid-off as I am told are also some cabin crew.
    It’s not a good picture but colleagues who have flown them long haul report that apart from the garish cabin fit out the experience is not at all bad with decent food and service. The loadings are not very impressive ether with Expert Flyer showing many long haul flights less than 70% full and some routes well under 50% over the past months which is just not sustainable.
    This hiatus in their intended growth has been very beneficial for Cathay of course allowing them start and establish several new destinations without the competition that HKA intended.
    I dont believe that they will be closed or be sold but it will be several years before they can resume seriously savaging Cathay again. .


    Remember Oasis Hong Kong Airlines? It took them three years to go out of business.


    The Memsahib and I travelled on HK Airlines into China recently (from HKG). It was ghastly. The check-in process was ridiculous – despite having checked in online before getting to the airport we were still required to use a check-in machine to get paper boarding passes (so why the **** do they provide mobile boarding passes in their app??!), the instructions for which were so opaque that we had to ask a staff member to help (two Oxbridge graduates, I might add, so I don’t think it is because we were being particularly thick, and a lot of other passengers were also having difficulty). The machine gave us the option of printing our baggage tags, which we selected, and were rewarded with baggage tags saying “VOID”. Another discussion with a staff member ensued. We then had to queue up to check in our luggage. The Memsahib had paid for extra luggage in advance since we knew we were overweight, but the machines didn’t detect this, and accordingly we were rejected (more conversations with staff members…). We then had to queue up at the baggage counter and try to persuade the single staff member there (whose English was not really adequate for a customer-facing person in a major international airport) that we had indeed prepaid for the excess. The whole process took about an hour.

    The only good thing about it was that as we headed to the Plaza Premium lounge (we both have Priority Pass) to get some breakfast, we passed the new Plaza Premium First lounge, and went in there thinking it was the main PP lounge. Once they explained that we needed to pay an extra HK$200 to use that rather than the standard lounge, we initially baulked, but then in the interests of time (and expecting that the ordinary PP lounge would be busy) we decided to pay up, and were hugely and pleasantly surprised by how good it was (I met Tom Otley for lunch shortly after this and recommended it to him, and you can see his review here).


    The inflight experience wasn’t much better. It was a fairly short flight (thank goodness). The seats were basic, there was no IFE (not that we were expecting any, in fairness), and the inflight service comprised one trip by the crew through the plane giving each passenger a bottle of tepid water and a small packet containing two green-tea-flavoured “cookies” (that is what was written on the label, but they were more like thin wafer biscuits).

    I have recently done the same route on Cathay Dragon both in their narrow-body and wide-body aircraft. The KA narrow-body is pretty comparable as regards the hard product, in fairness, as it also has no IFE and the seats are no more comfortable – but you do get a hot meal, a full beverage service, and the ability to get refills. The wide-body is streets ahead, with full on-demand IFE and better seats.


    Some years ago HX launched an “all-business-class” flight to London, albeit there were two business classes aboard – one was more like premium economy with recliner seats, the other was full-flat. The Memsahib flew them a couple of times, and was deeply unimpressed. At the time, HX made more of an effort to publicise the fact that their crew had been trained in martial arts than the quality of their product. There is, apparently, a good reason for this. Despite the fact that on one of those flights the Memsahib was one of only 8 people in the “premium” business class cabin, when she asked for a coffee it took 40 minutes to arrive. And it was cold. On another flight the crew-to-passenger ratio was about 1-to-3. And they still couldn’t get her a hot coffee. Needless to say, HX are not on our “preferred carrier” list.

    jjlasne mentioned Oasis. I was very happy with them – they represented a huge cost saving over the legacy airlines and the product you got was in line with what you paid – pretty basic, BUT incredibly good value (Oasis collapsed in large part because they launched just as fuel prices started going through the roof, not because they weren’t popular). HX made the mistake (IMHO) of pitching their prices only slightly lower than legacy carriers on the London route, but offering a service that was hugely inferior. It isn’t surprising that it didn’t last long, but the distinction with Oasis is that the HX flights to London failed because they just couldn’t sell seats. On one of the Memsahib’s flights, there were just 20 passengers.


    So seven executives all “decide to leave” at about the same time. Rats leaving the sinking ship, or someone wielding the boot?

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