A public hearing on the fate of proposed budget carrier Jetstar Hong Kong ended yesterday, leaving the Air Transport Licensing Authority (Atla) to give out its verdict on whether the carrier meets the Basic Law requirement of having its principal place of business in the city. The airline, owned in equal parts by Australia's Qantas Airways, Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines and local conglomerate Shun Tak Holdings, has been grounded due to regulatory hurdles for more than two years after its planned launch in 2012. Incumbent airlines led by Cathay Pacific objected to its entry on the grounds that it does not qualify as a local carrier. In the Atla hearing held at the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre yesterday - the third and final session of a hearing that started on January 23 - Cathay Pacific argued that Jetstar Hong Kong was "effectively little more than a branch office of an Australian airline" as its ultimate control lay in its Jetstar parent in Australia. Jetstar Hong Kong maintains that the airline is governed locally and argued that Cathay Pacific had its ultimate control in Britain by its parent John Swire & Sons. Jetstar is chaired by Pansy Ho Chiu-king, managing director of Shun Tak and the daughter of tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun. "We remain confident that Jetstar Hong Kong meets all requirements for a Hong Kong airline," a Jetstar Hong Kong spokesperson said after the hearing. Andrew Herdman, director general of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, told the South China Morning Post: "This is an example of industry players forcing regulators to define the rule, which often goes undefined or behind closed doors in many cases around the world." He said airlines differed from other commercial structures because of the nature of the business that calls for close regulation by a national aviation authority. Thorny issues of control and accountability matter particularly when it comes to traffic rights designation and safety regulation. For an airline to fly an international route, it takes up a share of its home country's traffic rights as agreed with the destination country.