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Hong Kong Express Airways Limited known as Hong Kong Express[3][4][5][6] or just HK Express,[7] is a Hong Kong-based low-cost airline part owned by HNA Group.[8] It provides scheduled air service to 28 destinations in Asia, including China, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, U.S. Territories, Taiwan and Thailand. The airline's main hub at Hong Kong International Airport uses a fleet that consists exclusively of the Airbus A320 family. In 2016 the airline became a founding member of the U-FLY Alliance.

HK Express
HK express logo 2013.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
UO HKE HONGKONG SHUTTLE
Founded10 March 2004; 15 years ago (2004-03-10)
HubsHong Kong International Airport
Frequent-flyer programReward-U
AllianceU-FLY Alliance
Fleet size24
Destinations26
Company sloganYour Move[1]
Parent companyHNA Group
HeadquartersOne Citygate, Tung Chung, Lantau, Islands, New Territories
Key peopleMr. Luo Cheng (CEO)
Mr. Zhong Guosong (Executive Chairman)[2]
Websitewww.hkexpress.com
Hong Kong Express Airways
Traditional Chinese香港快運航空
Simplified Chinese香港快运航空
Hong Kong Express
Traditional Chinese香港快運
Simplified Chinese香港快运
former name
Traditional Chinese港聯航空

The head office of HK Express is located at One Citygate in Tung Chung, Lantau.[9]

Contents

HistoryEdit

 
A Hong Kong Express Boeing 737-800 in the previous HNA Group livery

Hong Kong Express Airways Limited was incorporated on 10 March 2004, with the former Chinese name, 港聯航空公司, added on 21 April 2004.[10] The airline was owned by Macau casino entrepreneur Stanley Ho.[11] In July 2004, Hong Kong's helicopter operator Heli Hong Kong officially announced plans to commence fixed-wing operation via Hong Kong Express, to become Hong Kong's fourth passenger airline. It was planning to introduce regional jet services to secondary cities in mainland China and was in negotiations with Bombardier and Embraer for the lease of several 50- or 70-seat regional jets.[12] In April 2005, the airline was granted permission to transport passengers, cargo and mail from Hong Kong to selected destinations in China and permitted to apply for traffic rights to serve 15 Chinese cities.[13] The next month, it received approval to operate scheduled air services to five cities in China, including Chongqing, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Ningbo.[14] The airline had its Air Operator's Certificate varied in July 2005 for the operation of Embraer 170 aircraft.[15] The same month, it took delivery of its first of four 76-seat twin-jet Embraer 170, leased from General Electric Commercial Aviation Services (GECAS), and became the Asian launch operator of this regional jet. Two more aircraft were delivered in 2005, with the remaining delivered in May 2006.[16][17][18]

The airline's initial use of its first Embraer 170 was on charter services to Taichung, Republic of China (Taiwan), on 3 September 2005. The first scheduled passenger services began to Guangzhou on 8 September 2005, with services to Hangzhou and Ningbo following in October 2005 and December 2005, respectively.[15][19] On 19 November 2005, Hong Kong Air Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) granted the airline additional licences to operate scheduled services to 16 destinations in mainland China, as well as Koh Samui, Okinawa, Siem Reap and Taichung.[20] Scheduled passenger services to Chiang Mai and Chongqing were inaugurated on 22 June 2006 and 31 July 2006, respectively.

On 3 August 2006, HNA Group, the parent company of Hainan Airlines, announced a finalised agreement to acquire a 45 percent stake in Hong Kong Express; this followed an earlier purchase of a 45 percent holdings in CR Airways in June. Under the terms of the agreement, the airline would remain a Hong Kong registered airline and there would be no changes to the current operations. Analysts said that the HNA Group had the weakest international network amongst all the mainland airlines. By purchasing both Hong Kong Express and CR Airways, it would enable Hainan Airlines to expand internationally via its junior partners from Hong Kong.[21][22]

On 23 January 2008, the airline was the third Hong Kong carrier permitted by the Civil Aviation Department to operate flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai. To facilitate the expansion, it announced that six Boeing 737-800 would be added to its fleet before the end of the year.[23]

Low-cost carrier (LCC) transformationEdit

On 26 June 2013, Hong Kong Express announced its intention to transform into a low-cost carrier (LCC), and renamed to "HK Express", under the direction of the deputy CEO Andrew Cowen.[24] Hong Kong Express' first flights as a LCC commenced October 27, 2013, to five destinations in Asia. The airline has since added routes to Tokyo, Penang, Osaka, Fukuoka, Seoul and Busan. There are plans for the airline's fleet to increase by five Airbus A320 in 2014, taking the total number of aircraft to 11 within the year and with a longer term aim of having over 30 Airbus A320 by 2018.[25]

On 19 July 2017, during the annual Hong Kong Book Fair, HK Express launch an activities planning service known as U-Explore in collaboration with Hong Kong-based travel activities booking platform, Klook.[26][27]

On 9 November 2017, HK Express was banned by the Civil Aviation Department from adding new flights, routes or aircraft until 30 April 2018.[28][29] This followed the cancellation of 18 flights to Osaka, Nagoya and Seoul during National Day Golden Week that year, affecting about 2,000 passengers.[30] However, the delivery of four new aircraft was later permitted, provided they were used on existing routes only.[31]

Acquisition by Cathay PacificEdit

Cathay Pacific executives confirmed in late February 2019 that it was in "active discussions" about its interest of a full or partial takeover of HK Express from current owner HNA Group, although an agreement had yet to be reached at the time.

On 25 March 2019, the South China Morning Post reported that Cathay Pacific had agreed to buy the airline.[32]

On 27 March 2019, Cathay Pacific agreed to take over HK Express for HK$4.93 billion (US$628 million), with the transaction to close by the end of 2019. At the time, HK Express operated 23 Airbus A320 aircraft on 25 routes from Hong Kong to Japan and Southeast Asia with a net asset value of HK$1.12 billion, while the airline recorded a profit of HK$60 million in 2017, but recorded a loss of HK$141 million in 2018.[33] The acquisition will be paid with HK$2.25 billion in cash and HK$2.68 billion in promissory loan notes, and HK Express will subsequently withdraw from U-FLY Alliance.[34][35] By the time the acquisition transaction is completed, HK Express will become Cathay Pacific's wholly owned subsidiary.[36] Following the acquisition, Cathay Pacific has stated that it intends to continue the operation of HK Express as a stand-alone low-cost carrier separate from its existing full-service operations.[36]

However, according to the announcement, a firm of solicitors acting for a shareholder of an intermediate holding company of HK Express, has contested the seller's entry into an agreement for the transaction. It also states that Cathay Pacific has the right to terminate the share purchase if proceedings are commenced to prevent the transaction. The contesting party is widely believed to be the chairman and the major shareholder of HK Express, Zhong Guosong, who has clarified that he has no intention to sell the company and will potentially launch legal action regarding the sale.[37][38]

DestinationsEdit

FleetEdit

As of January 2019, the HK Express fleet consists of the following aircraft:[39]

 
HK Express Airbus A320-200
 
HK Express Airbus A320neo
 
HK Express Airbus A321-200
HK Express fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Passengers Notes|
Y Total
Airbus A320-200 8 180 180
Airbus A320neo 5 7 188 188
Airbus A321-200 11 1 230 230
Total 24 8

Former fleetEdit

 
A Boeing 737-800 in the airline's second-generation Hong Kong Express Airways livery
 
An Embraer 170 in the airline's original Hong Kong Express Airways livery

HK Express has previously operated the following aircraft:

LiveryEdit

Original liveryEdit

The original livery features a white fuselage with a blue engine and wingtip. The words "Hong Kong Express" are painted under the windows, with its former name "港聯航空" at the rear door.

Second liveryEdit

The second livery features the standard HNA Group Airline livery, almost identical with the livery of Hong Kong Airlines, with the golden bauhinia design on its logo. The only difference is the word "Express" in block letters painted under the windows.

Current liveryEdit

The current livery of Hong Kong Express is followed by the logo redesign of the airline. It features a white fuselage with a purple and red theme, and has a Hong Kong city silhouette in purple on the tail. [41]

Loyalty programmeEdit

On 14 April 2016, Hong Kong Express launched a loyalty programme named "Reward-U". Flights and gifts can be redeemed on the official website. The programme is free to join, only individuals two years old or above can join the programme. Each eligible Hong Kong Dollar spend earns ten points, but U-Biz passengers can earn 20 points per dollar spent. At most five members can form a reward-U crew to consolidate the points.

As of 2019, due to Cathay Pacific's acquisition, Reward-U's fate is currently unknown.

ServicesEdit

TicketingEdit

Hong Kong Express Airways has a 24/7 telephone hotline for passengers to reserve flights and change bookings. Passengers can also manage their bookings on the official website or via the mobile app.

Check inEdit

Hong Kong Express' base is located in Hong Kong international Airport. Their check-in counters are located at Aisle N in Terminal Two, for passengers to check in and drop baggage. Also, passengers can upgrade their seats to extended-legroom seats at the counters. The airline also has check-in counters at the concourse of Hong Kong and Kowloon Airport Express Stations.

Fare categoriesEdit

As of March 2019, Hong Kong Express consists of three fare categories: Fun, Fun+ and U-Biz.

FunEdit

Fun is the lowest fare category among the three categories. It only allows passengers to bring hand baggage, but not checked baggage. Complimentary seat reservation is not available, so passengers must specify and pay the seat-reservation fee when booking the flight, or on the official website.

Fun+Edit

Fun plus as all benefits of Fun, but has the following additional services:

  • Free 25 kg baggage allowance
  • Free selection of unreserved up-front seat

U-BizEdit

U-Biz is the highest fare category among the three, and has the following additional privileges:

  • Free 30 kg baggage allowance
  • Free selection of unreserved Sweet Seat
  • Double reward-U points.
  • Priority Check-in
  • Priority baggage retrieval
  • Conditional ticket amendments
  • Conditional refund
  • Hong Kong Airlines Lounge Access

CateringEdit

Utaste is the in-flight meal menu of Hong Kong Express. It serves cold and hot meals, alcohol and beverages. Passengers are prohibited from consuming any self-prepared food on board.

In-flight entertainmentEdit

In 2013, Hong Kong Express launched its own in-flight magazine for in-flight entertainment, the UO Magazine, which was published by Ink. In 2015, the UO Magazine was renamed to Uexplore, and was published by Hopewill Marketing & Service Ltd. The previous archive copies of Uexplore and UO Magazine can be found on HK Express' official website.

Duty-free shoppingEdit

Duty-free shopping is available on all flights on Hong Kong Express. All items are listed on the airline's shopping catalogue Ushop. Also, in-flight magazine Usave stated promotions on select destinations tickets and flights.

ControversiesEdit

Sudden flight cancellationEdit

In 29 September 2017, HK Express suddenly cancelled 18 flights to Osaka, Nagoya and Incheon on 1 and 8 October without any notice. Because the flights cancelled cover the National Day of China and Mid-Autumn Festival Holidays, 2070 passengers were affected. HK express felt extremely sorry for the inconvenience caused, and proposed a series of alternative solutions for the affected passengers like travelling on another airline, changing travel date, changing destination and full refund. Civil Aviation Department was unsatisfied by the behavior of HK Express, and requires the airline to submit a detailed report regarding the causes, short-term and long-term solutions to the incidents.

Inappropriate promotion methodsEdit

In July 2018, HK Express was found posting advertisements under street signposts, with QR codes available for citizens to scan for information and participate in games to win prizes. The advertisements did not show the airline's name nor its logo, however names of Japanese places were shown. District council members said that these materials may cause chaos and mislead citizens, due to Highways Department strictly prohibits organisations from posting anything on their signposts. HK Express apologised for organising this activity, and stopped the activity on 18 July 2018, and removed the advertisements.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "HK Express - 'Your Move': HK Express Debuts Refreshed Brand Identity". HK Express. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  2. ^ "HK Express Appoints New CEO - HK Express". www.hkexpress.com. Archived from the original on 12 April 2018. Retrieved 9 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Cathay Pacific to buy budget airline Hong Kong Express". BBC News. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Cathay Pacific buys Hong Kong Express from HNA for $628m". Financial Times. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Embattled Hong Kong Express names new CEO from Africa-based airline". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong. 27 January 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  6. ^ "Cathay Buys Hong Kong Express to Enter Budget Airline Market". Bloonberg. 27 January 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  7. ^ "HK Express rolls out refreshed brand identity". The Standard. Hong Kong: Sing Tao News Corporation. 7 March 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  8. ^ "Cathay Pacific agrees deal to take over budget airline HK Express, sources say". South China Morning Post. 2019-03-25. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  9. ^ "Legal & Privacy Archived 2016-11-09 at the Wayback Machine." HK Express. Retrieved on October 26, 2016. "Hong Kong Express Airways Limited 7th Floor, One Citygate, 20 Tat Tung Road, Tung Chung, Lantau, Hong Kong"
  10. ^ "Public Services - Registration of a new company". Government of Hong Kong. Archived from the original on 2009-02-21. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  11. ^ "Directory: World Airlines". Flight International. Reed Business Information. 2007-04-03. p. 91.
  12. ^ Ionides, Nicholas (6–12 July 2004). "Helicopter operator aims for Hong Kong airline services" (PDF). Flight International. Reed Business Information. p. 12. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  13. ^ Francis, Leithen (26 April 2005). "Hong Kong pair near China rights". Flight International. Reed Business Information. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  14. ^ "Embraer Delivers Embraer 170 to Hong Kong Express" (PDF) (Press release). Embraer. 27 September 2005. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 May 2006. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  15. ^ a b "Hong Kong 2005 - Civil Aviation". Government of Hong Kong. 2005. Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  16. ^ "Embraer wins 170 Asian breakthrough" (PDF). Flight International. Reed Business Information. 7–13 December 2004. p. 9. Archived from the original on 19 October 2012. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  17. ^ a b "First E-170 for Asia arrives". Flight International. Reed Business Information. 26 July 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  18. ^ "Hong Kong 2006 - Civil Aviation". Government of Hong Kong. 2006. Archived from the original on 2008-09-24. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  19. ^ "Hong Kong Express launches Guangzhou flights". Asia Times Online. 14 September 2005. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
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  21. ^ "Hong Kong Express Airways Confirms HNA Group Deal" (Press release). Hong Kong Express. 3 August 2006. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  22. ^ Lu, Haoting (3 August 2006). "HNA in talks to buy stake in HK airline". China Daily. Archived from the original on 27 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
  23. ^ "Hong Kong Express Airways Granted Beijing and Shanghai Routes" (Press release). Hong Kong Express. 22 January 2008. Archived from the original on 17 September 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  24. ^ "Hong Kong Express". Hong Kong Express. Archived from the original on 2013-09-16. Retrieved 2013-09-27.
  25. ^ ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-16. Retrieved 2013-09-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)." Hong Kong Express. Accessed April 2014.
  26. ^ "The Wrap: U-Explore – new online booking platform from Klook and HK Express - WIT". WIT. 2017-07-27. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  27. ^ 2017-07-20. "TTG China - 旅业报 - 香港快运航空携手KLOOK客路推出U-Explore平台". www.ttgchina.com. Archived from the original on 2017-11-15. Retrieved 2017-11-16.
  28. ^ "CAD accepts HKE's improvement proposal". www.info.gov.hk. Retrieved 2018-12-31.
  29. ^ "Hong Kong Express banned from adding new aircraft or routes". South China Morning Post. 2017-11-09. Retrieved 2018-12-31.
  30. ^ "Licence body warns airline of possible action over cancellations". South China Morning Post. 2017-10-01. Retrieved 2018-12-31.
  31. ^ "Budget airline's ban lifted 8 months after 'Golden Week' holiday chaos". South China Morning Post. 2018-06-07. Retrieved 2018-12-31.
  32. ^ Lee, Danny (2019-03-25). "Cathay Pacific agrees to deal to take over budget airline HK Express, sources say". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  33. ^ Ellis Taylor (27 March 2019). "Cathay Pacific to buy HK Express in HK$4.93bn deal". Flightglobal.
  34. ^ "Cathay Pacific Agrees To Buy Low Cost Carrier HK Express". Simple Flying. 26 March 2019.
  35. ^ Allen, Michael (26 March 2019). "Cathay Pacific agrees to buy HK Express". Business Traveller.
  36. ^ a b "Cathay Pacific Airways Limited - Disclosable Transaction: Acquisition of Hong Kong Express Airways Limited" (PDF) (Press release). Cathay Pacific. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  37. ^ "HK Express Acquired By Cathay Pacific For $628m".
  38. ^ "Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific Airways to pay HK$4.93 billion to buy budget carrier HK Express".
  39. ^ Airbus Orders and Deliveries (XLS), accessed via "Orders & Deliveries". Airbus. 31 March 2017. Archived from the original on 18 April 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  40. ^ "Hong Kong Express Fleet Details and History". Planespotters.net. Archived from the original on 4 July 2014. Retrieved 25 July 2014.
  41. ^ "Hong Kong Express Livery Redesign South China Morning Post". South China Morning Post.

External linksEdit