Jetstar Hong Kong’s hopes of acquiring a licence to operate in Hong Kong has been dashed by the Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA).
Plans for the low-cost carrier to operate from Hong Kong have been in the works since Qantas first approached China Eastern to set up the join venture, with locally based Shun Tak Holdings joining in 2013.
However, the development of Jetstar Hong Kong faced fierce resistance from the existing four airlines that operate in Hong Kong.
In particular, Cathay Pacific (CX) argued that the control of the airline lay in Jetstar’s office in Australia, which meant that Jetstar Hong Kong did not meet the conditions set out by the Basic Law.
Following an ongoing deliberation that lasted for four months, the ATLA gave its ruling yesterday that “ATLA decides that Jetstar Hong Kong does not have its principal place of business in Hong Kong and hence refuses [its] application for license”.
Jetstar Hong Kong’s chief executive Edward Lau delivered a statement following the ruling, in which he said Jetstar Hong Kong “is extremely disappointed by the decision”, adding that “we genuinely believed that Hong Kong is [the airline’s] principal place of business”.
The ATLA decision was welcomed by CX director, corporate affairs, James Tong, who said in a statement: “Any airline with its principal place of business not in Hong Kong does not comply with Article 134 of the Basic Law. The ATLA decision ensures that important Hong Kong economic assets, its air traffic rights, are used for the benefit of the people and the economy of Hong Kong.”
Chief executive of Qantas Group, Alan Joyce, said: “This is as disappointing for the shareholders as it is for the travellers that Jetstar Hong Kong planned to serve.
“At a time when aviation markets across Asia are opening up, Hong Kong is going in the opposite direction. Given the importance of aviation to global commerce, shutting the door to new competition can only serve the vested interests already installed in that market.”