HONG KONG: Hong Kong Airlines said Thursday it had bought nine Airbus aircraft, for a catalogue price of $2.31 billion, seeking to bolster its Asian network as an expanding Chinese middle class takes to the skies.
The Hong Kong-based airline, which serves a wide range of mainland Chinese cities as well as international routes, said the nine A330-300 aircraft would cover a wide range of destinations in Asia.
"Today´s announcement underscores our plan to operate an extensive regional network in Asia," Hong Kong Airlines president Zhang Kui said in a statement published Thursday. "The A330´s flexibility also allows us to further deploy these aircraft to some long-haul routes in the future," Zhang said.
Hong Kong Airlines was established in 2006 and operates an all-Airbus fleet made up of 11 A320s and 22 A330s. Its international destinations include Bangkok and Osaka, and it will be launching a route between Hong Kong and Auckland, New Zealand in November of this year.
The purchase comes as China was on Tuesday predicted to become the world´s first trillion-dollar aviation market, with mainland Chinese residents travelling by air in ever greater numbers.
China is expected to add more than 6,800 new aircraft to its commercial fleet worth $1.03 trillion by 2035, US manufacturer Boeing said in its annual China Current Market Outlook Tuesday.
Passenger traffic is estimated to increase 6.4 percent annually in China over the next 20 years as the country reforms its economy to rely more on consumption and the service industry to drive growth, Boeing said.
A quarter of Boeing´s deliveries over the last three years were to Chinese airlines, it says. Boeing, maker of the 737 MAX and 787 Dreamliner, competes with Europe´s Airbus for global dominance in the aircraft market.