Jevey Zhang, Chairman of Hong Kong Airlines, said, “We are very pleased to see that our flight operations have returned to pre-pandemic levels before year-end, surpassing our initial forecast of a full recovery by mid-2024. We also anticipate that our average passenger load factor to rebound to 85% by 2023. With more than eight times the number of flight sectors and 38 times the number of passengers carried in the first three quarters of the year compared to the same period last year, the performance outlook is truly optimistic.”
This year, Hong Kong Airlines has increased the number of destinations in Japan to nine, including Kumamoto, Hakodate and Yonago, which will be added to the existing Fukuoka and Nagoya services in December. On the Chinese mainland, flights to eight cities, totalling 10 destinations were resumed this year. Meanwhile, Phuket has been added to the regional route network, along with flight resumption to Bali. Hong Kong Airlines will be the only carrier to offer direct flight service from Hong Kong to the Maldives, bringing the airline’s network coverage to 25 destinations.
Due to the recovery in tourism and the impact of the yen exchange rate, the performance of the Japanese market was the most prominent. Passenger load factors during the traditional peak travel season of summer holidays remained above 90% this year. It is expected that Japan will remain a preferred destination for travellers during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
Hong Kong Airlines has taken delivery of a number of Airbus A330-300 wide-body aircraft this year, bringing its total fleet to 21 aircraft by the end of the year. These new aircraft will not only enable flight resumptions, increase seat capacity and provide a more comfortable flying experience but will also meet future operational needs. The company plans to expand its current fleet by 30% by the end of 2024, thereby doubling the overall passenger traffic. It is actively introducing a new aircraft model to further improve operational efficiency, with the first delivery expected as early as the first quarter of next year.
Hong Kong Airlines continues to review its investment in the Mainland China market and enhance its existing flight network strategy to build air bridges for inter-regional travel and trade. It currently operates from two major airports of Beijing, Shanghai, and Hainan Island, to promote the development of an air passenger and cargo trade hub.
With the rapid resumption of flights to a number of destinations, Hong Kong Airlines has also been actively recruiting employees, including inviting former employees to return to their positions and recruiting locally and globally. Some of the posts have already reached the annual recruitment target by mid-year, and the total number of employees is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year. At present, the main vacancies remain centred on cabin crew and ground staff. For the first time this year, the company held large-scale recruitment days in major cities in mainland China and Japan. With the recovery and further growth of the business, it is expected that an additional 20% of staff will be required next year. The company will hold cabin crew recruitment days in various parts of the world, including the Greater Bay Area, Thailand, and South Korea, to welcome suitable talents.