Hong Kong Airlines may reduce the size of its fleet to resolve the carrier’s financial difficulties, according to a news report.
The struggling airline currently has a fleet of 38 aircraft. South China Morning Post reports that it was close to cutting this number of passenger jets down to 28. The reduction would be the removal of the Airbus 330-200 – the smaller variant of Hong Kong Airlines’ largest jets of which they have 11 in total.
The carrier did not deny the plan to shrink the size of its fleet, saying that they are working on consolidating and optimising the network and fleet.
The plan may force Hong Kong Airlines to implement job cuts in the near future but the airline has denied any potential changes in the number of staff. South China Morning Post reports that the airline employs almost 3,900 people, including 1,900 cabin crew and 631 pilots.
Rumours abound as to the severity of Hong Kong Airlines funding issues.
Last week, it was sued by American plane lender International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) and the Irish subsidiary of Wilmington Trust for HK$150 million in unpaid fees for rented aeroplanes.
Attention has also been drawn to the company’s failure to take delivery of three new A350-900 planes and an A330-300 worth about HK$9.5 billion. These planes remain in Airbus’ factory in Toulouse, France.
The Hong Kong government has expressed grave concern over the airline’s financial situation. Before Chinese New Year, the government considered a contingency plan for its possible collapse, including coordinating special flight arrangements with other airlines in case of a sudden shutdown.
Amid the crisis, the city’s largest carrier Cathay Pacific is planning in taking minority stakes in HK Express and Hong Kong Airlines. Cathay has reportedly been in preliminary talks with HNA Group Co, the conglomerate backer of these two smaller airlines.