Hong Kong Airlines has today announced the closure of its last long haul route. Vancouver will no longer feature on its schedules from February 2020, and bookings will be closed from early December. This is the latest of many cuts to the struggling airline’s routes and comes amid worries from the Chinese government over the future viability of the carrier.
The end of long haul
Earlier today we reported on how Hong Kong Airlines is having trouble paying its staff, and may not be able to settle all November salary claims. This comes amid the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, which have seen numerous airlines cut routes and capacity, and even led the airport to waive its usual ‘use it or lose it’ policy on slots.
Well, now the situation for Hong Kong Airlines has become abundantly clear, as the airline has taken its very last long haul route off its future schedule. As reported by Routesonline, the Hong Kong Airlines service between HKG and Vancouver (YVR) is closed for reservations from the 9th December. The airline says that the last flight will take place on the 10th of February 2020.
Prior to this, the airline had slashed a number of long haul routes from its schedule. It discontinued San Francisco in October, closed its Auckland route earlier in the year and dropped out of Australia in October 2018. It also announced it would be suspending Los Angeles, its last US route, from February 6th, 2020. However, this is open to change sooner, as the airline has said it will,
“…continue to monitor the situation closely and adjust its business plan accordingly to ensure that it remains commercially viable and sustain its long-term growth.”
It’s somewhat pertinent that Vancouver is the last long haul route to be announced as a cut, as it was also the airline’s first route to North America, back in 2017.
Trimming operations network-wide
As well as the complete abandonment of long haul operations, Hong Kong Airlines is trimming its routes closer to home too. From the 10th of February 2020, it will suspend its service to Tianjin, and from the 20th of February also to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.
In a statement on the carrier’s website today regarding the route changes, the airline explained the reason behind its cuts, saying,
“Hong Kong Airlines has been reviewing its network strategy and will continue to focus on operating priority routes under the challenging business environment caused by the ongoing social unrest in Hong Kong. While the airline has already reduced its capacity and flights in the coming months, weak travel demand continues to affect its business and revenue.”
It apologized to its customers for the inconvenience this will cause, and assured them that alternative travel arrangements would be made for those booked on any of the canceled routes.
The end is nigh?
The South China Morning Post reported today that the Air Transport Licensing Authority is considering revoking HKA’s license, and says it has been in financial difficulty for a ‘long period of time’. The body says it is concerned over the inability of the airline to pay its employees on time.
According to the report, the Chinese government has already prepped other airlines for the imminent failure of Hong Kong Airlines. SCMP says that contingency measures are in place for the Christmas period, with other airlines being asked to be ready to ‘absorb stranded passengers’ in the event of a sudden collapse.
With the protests in Hong Kong showing no sign of abating and the slow winter season upon us, it remains to be seen if HKA can make it to the spring unscathed.