Hong Kong’s airport authority has rejected an application by one of Asia’s biggest budget airlines to operate more flights out of the territory.

Australia’s Jetstar Airways, a low-cost airline owned by national flag carrier Qantas, had hoped to schedule more flights from the city to popular holiday destination around Asia.

According to a statement,by the Air Transport Licensing Authority, Jetstar’s application was rejected because its principle place of business is not Hong Kong. Jetstar previously argued they had an office and that all Hong Kong operations would be managed independently of their main base in Melbourne.

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Jetstar Airbus A330-200. Photo: Wikicommons

Jetstar submitted their application for an operating license to ATLA in 2013, and a public inquiry into the application was held amid opposition from the territory’s four big local airlines: Cathay Pacific, Dragon Air, Hong Kong Airlines, and Hong Kong Airways Express.

Jetstar currently services 32 routes in 11 different countries to and from Hong Kong. In their original application, they applied to service more than 120 routes, including their existing routes, to and from Hong Kong.

  • China – Only flies to one city, Hangzhou. In their original application they applied to fly to 48 different cities including Beijing and Shanghai.
  • Japan – Only flies to seven cities including to Tokyo’s Narita airport. In their application they applied to fly to 26 different cities including both Haneda and Narita airports in Tokyo.
  • South Korea – Does not operate on any routes to South Korea. In their original application they applied to fly to six different destinations including both Incheon and Gimpo airports in Seoul.
  • In addition to South Korea, Jetstar applied to fly to cities in five new destinations including the Philippines and Laos.

Whilst the Licensing Authority was considering Jetstar’s application, the airline was forced to sell some of its aircraft. According to Australian Aviation, Jetstar had to sell eight of its nine A320 jetliners. The most recent sale took place in March where two were sold to a Chinese company for US$83 million.

Jetstar was established in 2003 and flies to 35 different destinations.

Jetstar Hong Kong was formed in 2012 as a joint venture between Qantas and China Eastern Airlines. In 2013, the airline announced it had formally applied to the ATLA for an operating licence, one month after Shun Tak invested in a 33.3 percent stake in the company.

Vicky is a British-born Chinese journalist with three years of experience covering UK politics. She previously worked for PoliticsHome and has interned at Sky News and CNN International. She also co-produced and filmed a documentary about the Hong Kong protests for MSNBC, which won the grand student prize at the 2015 Human Rights Press Awards. She has a BA in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading and moved to Hong Kong in 2014 to complete a journalism masters at the University of Hong Kong.