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Will Macau focus see Jetstar Hong Kong rise again?

July 26, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Macau’s policymakers are debating whether to end Air Macau’s privileged position as sole home airline – and there’s even talk of a Jetstar Hong Kong revival.

The Greater Bay Area development plan, bringing together Hong Kong, Macau and nine cities in Guangdong to form one of the world’s super-centres of commerce, trade and tourism, may involve a rejig of air links in Hong Kong and Macau.

However Qantas has repeatedly ruled out any revival of its embarrassing foray into Hong Kong, which saw jets grounded while authorities took their time and pondered Cathay objections before rejecting Jetstar Hong Kong’s application for an operating licence.

“Time has moved on and we have moved on,” Qantas Group chief executive Alan Joyce told Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post earlier this year.

“We don’t see that as something we would be interested in going back to and revisiting.”

Jetstar’s sister airlines in Singapore, Vietnam and Japan fly up to several times a day to Hong Kong without having a base in the city, the South China Morning Post pointed out – and Joyce has said that while the Hong Kong Jetstar venture would have been “great”, Hong Kong’s airport is now nearly full, making it impossible for a new airline to establish.

In Macau, meanwhile, authorities are deciding what to do after Air Macau’s exclusive franchise runs out in 2020. Air Macau is controlled largely by Air China and is also a partner of Cathay Pacific.

Speculation is rife that Jetstar Hong Kong chief Pansy Ho, Shun Tak Holdings chairwoman, may be tempted to make a third attempt to launch a budget airline.

Ho tried to establish a Macau budget carrier before going on head Jetstar Hong Kong, with backing from Australian flag carrier Qantas and China Eastern. The venture failed to secure regulatory approval from Hong Kong in June 2015.

Billionaire businesswoman Ho hinted in The Australian newspaper last month she might consider relaunching Jetstar Hong Kong.

Written by Peter Needham

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