Jetstar names Hong Kong chief as stamp of commitment

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 4:37am

Jetstar Hong Kong, a low-cost carrier that is seeking regulatory approval for various licences, has appointed a Hong Kong chief executive to prove itself a genuine carrier in the city.

Edward Lau, who is the managing director for the Hong Kong office of Dutch express giant TNT, was appointed chief executive of Jetstar HK yesterday. He is the latest Hong Kong director to come on board after chief financial officer Howard Cheung and independent non-executive director Ronnie Choi Mow-sang. Lau's official last day at TNT will be this Saturday.

The airline, owned by Qantas' Jetstar Group and China Eastern Airlines, is waiting for an air operator's certificate, a procedure by which the Civil Aviation Department checks to see if the firm is technically competent in terms of its equipment, organisation, staffing and maintenance arrangements.

"It's a straightforward procedure, which normally takes around six months," a source familiar with the situation said.

The airline expects to get the certificate this month at the earliest and all operating licences are expected to be ready by the middle of the year.

The department said no timeline could be indicated for the approval of the certificate as Jetstar HK was still submitting the necessary information.

Jetstar HK also needs the ATLA operating licence to fly to certain destinations. But the application has been delayed for six months as the Transport and Housing Bureau is reviewing the processing regime and has yet to rectify the new criteria for granting the licence.

The airline has to prove Hong Kong is its principal place of business although none of its investors are from the city.

Jetstar HK planned to fly short-haul services to Greater China, Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia with fares on average half of those offered by full-service carriers, Lau said yesterday. The carrier will kick off the services with three new Airbus 320-200s. It expects the fleet will grow to 18 by 2015.

Greater China is the last untapped market for low-cost carriers, with a penetration rate of below 7 per cent last year, compared with 17 per cent in Asia and above 24 per cent in Europe and North America.