Hong Kong Airlines Cuts Inflight Entertainment

Today, Hong Kong Airlines has released news about the latest development in its troubled saga. It has decided to cut inflight entertainment until further notice. Drastic though this may sound, it’s just one of the ways thought to help Hong Kong Airlines cut costs amid its financial difficulties.

Hong Kong Airlines Cuts Inflight Entertainment
Hong Kong Airlines has cut inflight entertainment in order to reduce costs. Photo: Edwin Leong via Wikimedia Commons

Another exorbitant cutback

Earlier today (30/11) Hong Kong Airlines (HKA) released a rather brief and particularly colorless announcement on its website as it struggles to stay afloat. The airline this year has born the brunt of political unrest and its inflight entertainment is the latest victim of a cost-cutting effort. In a statement, Hong Kong Airlines simply stated:

“Inflight entertainment system out of service. Hong Kong Airlines’ inflight entertainment system will be out of service from 1 December 2019 until further notice. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers. Hong Kong Airlines will work with our vendor to resume the service as soon as we can.”

Movie licensing for airlines can come at a high price. One source estimates that an Early Window Content movie can cost an airline around $31,000. Late Window Content, which includes movies already available to the public, costs around $3,000 per movie. Unsurprisingly, HKA is likely to have cut its inflight entertainment in order to conserve some much-needed capital.

What’s happening with Hong Kong Airlines?

It’s been a lugubrious month for the Hong Kong air carrier. Within the space of two days, it’s made three news headlines firstly for cutting long-haul flights. Then for failing to pay staff wages, and now this.

Hong Kong Airlines Cuts Inflight Entertainment
The fate of HKA is still unclear despite talks with the licensing body. Photo: Steven Byles via Flickr

In a previous article, we reported that HKA was sitting down with the Air Licensing Transport Authority in Hong Kong to discuss its fate. That discussion is thought to have happened yesterday but there has yet to be an announcement about any conclusions that were reached. We contacted Hong Kong Airlines for comment on the matter but it was unavailable at the time of publication.

However, we can say this. If we’re looking for any kind of verdict about HKA’s fate, we can take our answer from this latest event. It’s clear that HKA is still on a cost-cutting mission and it’s also apparent that there are more inessential services that it can cut. That leaves us with a lingering sense of hope. Perhaps its demise is not the only solution to its troubles. Once the country’s civil unrest abates perhaps the airline will get another chance. At the moment, tourism in Hong Kong looks bleak. The number of visitors to Hong Kong dropped nearly 50% last month in comparison to October 2018.

Hong Kong Airlines’ new strategy

Hong Kong Airlines Cuts Inflight Entertainment
HKA’s strategy is to strip the non-essentials and focus on priority routes. Photo: Melv_L – MACASR via Wikimedia Commons

For now, Hong Kong Airlines has some kind of strategy. It’s focusing on priority routes to stem its fiscal bleed. As its route network gets shorter, its fleet shrinks and its staff become fewer and fewer, HKA is pinning its hopes on recovering where it can.

HKA continues to operate its remaining flights from its hub at Hong Kong International Airport. As to its future, it’s left the world playing a waiting game. A lot seems to rest on the outcome of the country’s protests but even after the unrest subsides, how long will it take to coax Hong Kong tourism back to its previous levels?

What’s your view on this latest development in Hong Kong Airlines’ financial difficulties? Let us know your thoughts in the comment below!