Hong Kong Startup Greater Bay Airlines Seeks Aircraft

Hong Kong-based start-up carrier Greater Bay Airlines is pushing forward with its launch as news has surfaced that it is approaching leasing companies searching for its first aircraft. Building its fleet from scratch, the airline intends to start as early as the middle of next year.

White 737-800
The airline, which has yet to reveal any sort of branding or livery, is reportedly looking for Boeing 737-800s. Photo: Marvin Mutz via Wikimedia Commons

Continuing to move forward with the launch

We first heard of Greater Bay Airlines several months ago, in August, when we learned of its application to Hong Kong’s civil aviation authority for an Air Operators Certificate (AOC). Since then, we’ve learned a little bit more about the future airline’s plans.

According to FlightGlobal, Greater Bay Airlines has approached leasing companies looking to lease three Boeing 737-800s. Multiple sources in Hong Kong note that the owner of this start-up, a mogul by the name of Bill Wong, has been in discussions with ICBC Leasing, among other lessors.

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“If I launch an airline in Hong Kong, I can make use of the synergy and network in the Greater Bay Area – from Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong – and gain the most out of it,” -Bill Wong Cho-bau, Founder, Greater Bay Airlines via South China Morning Post

Donghai 737-800
The founder, Bill Wong, is a property mogul who also owns Donghai Airlines. The Shanghai-based airline also operates the 737-800. Photo: Windmemories via Wikimedia Commons

FlightGlobal also notes that so far, there are around 20 bidders and that around 100 aircraft have been offered.

Why the Boeing 737-800?

So why has Greater Bay Airlines decided to start its operations with the 737-800?

The -800 is part of Boeing’s ‘Next Gen’ series of 737 jets. While these jets have been superseded by the MAX series, the Next Gen family has been a proven workhorse for many fleets around the world for the last twenty years. Indeed, many airlines, from budget carriers to full-service airlines, have made good use out of the 737-800. Most notably, Ryanair and its 470 aircraft are entirely -800s. Meanwhile, Eurasian full-service carrier Turkish Airlines has nearly 60 -800s operating out of its hub in Istanbul.

Most importantly, at this time, the -800 is also free of the controversy that has surrounded the MAX jets. While the United States’ FAA has officially recertified the aircraft, many other civil aviation authorities around the world will need to do the same. This will take some time, potentially extending beyond Greater Bay’s mid-2021 launch date.

Ryanair 737
The 737-800 has proven a reliable jet for budget airline Ryanair, which operates hundreds of the jet. Photo: Pixabay

Staff to be hired

The airline is looking to hire about 300 staff before its launch. In an exclusive interview with the South China Morning Post, Wong noted that he expects to spend HK$2 billion ($258 million) on securing staff and aircraft as part of the regulatory approval process. As of early November, it was reported that HK$500 million ($64.5 million) has already been spent.

What do you think of Greater Bay Airlines’ plan to use the Boeing 737-800? Should they choose a different aircraft? Let us know in the comments.