Stanley Ho's Shun Tak buys 33pc stake in Jetstar Hong Kong
Qantas and China Eastern bring local investor on board in move that could help them secure regulatory approval to get in the air
Shun Tak Holdings is paying US$66 million for a third of the shares of Jetstar Hong Kong, the low-cost carrier awaiting regulatory clearance.
The announcement yesterday came two days after the Hong Kong government said it had stopped processing applications of new airlines.
"We hope Shun Tak's background and experience in cross-border transportation in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) can speed up the application process," said Pansy Ho, managing director of Shun Tak and daughter of company chairman Stanley Ho.
China Eastern and Qantas Group established Jetstar Hong Kong in March 2012, and had planned to be in the air this month. But the budget airline has struggled to receive the necessary licence from the Civil Aviation Department.
The presence of gambling mogul Stanley Ho's property-to-transport conglomerate on Jetstar Hong Kong's board could smooth the carrier's relations with the central government, which could help it receive regulatory approval. Following the transaction, Shun Tak, China Eastern and Qantas will each hold 33.33 per cent of the airline.
Edward Lau, chief executive officer of Jetstar Hong Kong, said the new airline would create 1,000 jobs. He added the airline would sell tickets at 50 per cent of the price of those offered by full-service carriers.
"We will submit our application for the licence to operate scheduled services to the Air Transport Licensing Authority in a few days," he said.
"We have a healthy and constructive dialogue with the government and we are confident the licence could be granted by the end of the year."
The first A320 ordered by Jetstar Hong Kong is now awaiting delivery. At present, the company has 70 staff.
Lau did not elaborate on the operating costs of the airline, noting it had not become operational.
Jetstar Hong Kong, which has a capitalisation of HK$1.5 billion, expects to have 18 A320s by 2015. It aims to serve regional destinations within five hours of flight, including Southeast Asia, Japan, Korea and the mainland.
If its application is approved, the airline would compete against Hong Kong's dominant carrier, Cathay Pacific Airways.
In her comments yesterday, Pansy Ho said that allowing the airline to take off would contribute to co-operation in the PRD region.
"Hong Kong is at the centre of a one hundred billion yuan of infrastructure investment in PRD, including high-speed rail and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge," Pansy Ho said.
"The development of the aviation market in Hong Kong will benefit all neighbouring cities, especially Zhuhai and Macau," she added.