Any new business venture requires faith in the product being offered coupled with optimism. Launching an air transport service from Hong Kong to challenge the market dominance of Cathay Pacific Airways adds another dimension, particularly in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. But Greater Bay Airlines, which this week received approval to begin commercial passenger flights, has as its model the provision of choice to customers and confidence in the potential of its namesake, southern China’s Greater Bay Area (GBA) hi-tech and innovation zone. Greater Bay Airlines has ambitious plans to fly to 104 destinations in mainland China and in Asia, 11 more than Cathay Pacific and its now defunct subsidiary Cathay Dragon, which flew worldwide before the pandemic began more than two years ago. Having been given an operating licence enables it to press ahead with talks to acquire dozens of narrow-body planes to add to the single Boeing jet it flies. Negotiations can begin in earnest on hiring pilots and office staff and putting in place infrastructure. The company’s founder, Hong Kong property tycoon Bill Wong Cho-bau, who already operates Donghai Airlines in Shenzhen, has pledged to invest HK$2 billion (US$256 million). Hong Kong gives go-ahead to Greater Bay Airlines to fly 104 routes in Asia The GBA lies at the heart of the plan, the aviation benefits of bases in Hong Kong and Shenzhen providing advantages over rivals for passenger and cargo operations. With China’s economic recovery from the pandemic under way, there is every reason to be optimistic about the region’s growth potential. It is understandable why an entrepreneur with vision would see opportunities in an airline based in Hong Kong that connects other GBA cities with the region. Covid-19 and the Hong Kong government’s protective restrictions have severely impacted international passenger and cargo operations to the city; the airport at Chek Lap Kok handled only 71,000 people in January, 98.8 per cent fewer than for when the health crisis began at the start of 2020. Cathay’s flight capacity was about 2.1 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while cargo was just 21 per cent of maximum volume. But it is from such downturns that business opportunities arise. With an eye on the future, Wong has adopted the optimism and positive thinking Hong Kong and the region need to move forward.