WLCA Asia-Pacific: Hong Kong Express plans growth with more A320s

Hong Kong Express plans to have a fleet of 10 or eleven Airbus A320s by the end of this year, grow to 18 by the end of next year and is aiming to carry more than one million passengers this year – its first year as a low-fare carrier.

A sixth A320 will join the fleet next month, launching services to Seoul Incheon and Fukuoka, Japan, Andrew Cowen, deputy chief executive officer told LARA at the World Low Cost Airlines Asia-Pacific conference, taking place in Singapore on 18-19 February. A seventh A320 will join the fleet in May, entering service in June on as yet unannounced new routes.

Cowen declined to identify new route plans beyond Seoul and Fukuoka, but by the end of 2014 the airline plans to serve 20 destinations – up from eight currently. More points in Japan could feature, however, with the airline’s existing services from Hong Kong to Tokyo and Osaka proving popular. “In our surveys, Japan comes out as the top destination regionally so that’s encouraging us to look at new destinations there,” Cowen confirmed.

The biggest issue facing the airline’s future expansion is slot constraints at Hong Kong, says Cowen. “We had planned to be selling another three or four destinations now but the slot problem is really holding us back,” he added.

After just four months of operation as a low-fare carrier, load factors are up in the high 70s/low 80s, with the airline identifying “plenty of low-cost carrier opportunities” from Hong Kong, noted Cowen. Hong Kong is already served by 17 low-fare airlines, but Hong Kong Express is the only local carrier, with Jetstar’s proposed Jetstar Hong Kong still going through the regulatory process.

Emma Kelly, Asia-Pacific correspondent, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net

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