CR Airways, owned by businessman Robert Yip, has inaugurated charter
flights between Hong Kong and Danang, Vietnam, in what it hopes will
soon become a regular scheduled service.
The Civil Aviation Department approved the airline's application last
week to operate two charter flights. These were flown on July 30 and
last Monday (August 2).
But just 22 people, including 10 journalists, were on board the
airline's 50 seat Bombardier CRJ-200, for the first flight last
Despite the low passenger load, Yip was upbeat about the service. He
told reporters in Danang: "We are delighted to have this opportunity
to expand our regional network to Vietnam, one of Asia's fastest
growing economies and newest and most exciting tourism destinations."
The two charter flights came about two weeks after Vietnam's Pacific
Airlines stopped its twice-weekly service between Hong Kong and Danang
because of lack of business.
Undeterred, CR Airways has filed a licensing application with the Air
Transport Licensing Authority (ATLA) to operate regular scheduled
services between Hong Kong and Danang.
Kenneth Thong, CR Airways director and chief executive, said it
normally takes ATLA between six weeks and three months to process an
Asked if the scheduled flights would start by Christmas, Thong said:
"I don't think as quickly as that."
After receiving the licence, CR Airways would have to be made a
designated carrier on the Hong Kong-Danang route by the Economic
Development and Labour Bureau. It would also have to seek traffic
rights from the Hong Kong and Vietnamese authorities.
One insider doubted whether there was spare capacity under the
existing Hong Kong-Vietnam air services agreement for CR Airways to
launch a large number of weekly flights. "All the capacity is on
routes to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City," the insider said. He added
that the new services would form an extension of the airline's
existing twice-weekly service between Hong Kong and Siem Reap in
"The schedule would be Hong Kong-Danang-Siem Reap," he said.
Thong said the CR Airways flights would become the first direct
scheduled service between Hong Kong and Danang. He said the airline is
currently reviewing plans to expand the fleet with the acquisition of
additional Bombardier regional jets.
Asked how many aircraft the airline was planning to acquire, Thong
said: "We don't know yet. It all depends on the routes we have."
There has been speculation CR Airways plans to acquire up to 20
Bombardier CRJ-200s. The airline has also actively been seeking
outside investors with Hutchison Whampoa named as one of the firms
that have been approached.
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