Small airline Hong Kong Express will scrap its Guangzhou leg - one of the shortest hops in the aviation business - at the end of the month due to low passenger numbers and heavy competition. With a shuttle service that can barely compete with the two-hour train trip for convenience, Hong Kong Express said it would end its four daily flights to concentrate on other mainland destinations. 'We will leave Guangzhou until more commercial agreements can be obtained,' Hong Kong Express director James Yeung said. After six months of operation, the load factor - the percentage of seats occupied by paying passengers - fell short of the 30 per cent target, revealing how difficult it is for an individual carrier to gain a foothold in Hong Kong without support from the major carriers. Hong Kong Express had hoped to connect long-haul passengers with Guangzhou but without interlinking agreements with Cathay Pacific Airways or United Airlines, the load factor fell short of the target. 'We will focus more on the central and eastern part of China,' chief executive Andrew Tse said. Meanwhile, travellers using the airline between Hong Kong and Hangzhou rose 31 per cent last year. Mr Tse added that the increasing number of direct flights into Guangzhou was edging out Hong Kong as the gateway to China. The carrier plans to begin services to Nanjing in April, starting with one daily flight and possibly two flights longer term. In addition to its existing destinations of Hangzhou and Ningbo, Nanjing would be the third prong of its mainland business plan. 'Travel agencies usually include Hangzhou, Suzhou, Shanghai and Nanjing in one tour, a popular round trip with Hong Kong people. It's better if we can provide them with more options,' Mr Yeung said. He said the airline would sell tickets through Hangzhou with a return via Nanjing and vice-versa.