There is speculation, and a few hard facts, that all point to an interesting situation arising in Hong Kong in which Qantas may find a way to leverage itself into a Hong Kong or lower Pearl River delta based new Jetstar franchise, and even find an opening for its proposed Asia based narrow body premium minority owned airline.
The hard facts are that Cathay Pacific, which has until now dismissed the utility of setting up its own low cost brand, has seen fit to make public allusions as to the tragically short life that would await a Jetstar franchise based in Hong Kong.
Which suggests it is worried, since if it wasn’t it needn’t say anything.
Also on the public record is the intention of the HNA Group to convert its Hong Kong Express brand into a low cost carrier, which most observers regard it as anyhow, and expand and re-fleet it with Airbus A320s while transferring its small fleet of around eight 737-800s to full service brand Hong Kong Airways.
On 1 September Jetstar group CEO Bruce Buchanan gave this more than interesting address in Sydney which touched on the ‘China opportunity’. It was one of those speeches where the space between the lines was even more important, and Jetstar reminded more than one aviation reporter that this speech needed to be read very carefully in relation to the bigger picture in China, which is where Qantas group CEO, Alan Joyce, is, or was.
He isn’t sharing his diary at the moment.
But he was deeply missed at yesterday evening’s Senate committee hearing into the amendments to the Qantas Sale Act embodied in the Qantas (Still Call Australia Home) bill which Qantas regards as the Kill Jetstar bill.
Asia based contacts have told Plane Talking that HNA is not convinced, so far, by suggestions that a Jetstar branding, or an involvement in any restructuring which might see Qantas contribute money and jets to an Asia based premium carrier, would work for them.
But given reports that Singapore has not embraced the premium carrier project and that Qantas is instead pursuing a Malaysia solution, variously involving Malaysia Airlines or Air Asia, the situation in Hong Kong and in the PRC based HNA group of airlines merits close attention.
Not just in Australia, but also in Singapore, where the inability of Singapore Airlines to engineer its own China solution for tapping into its future potential has been a long running and frustrating spectacle for its business watchers.