Jetstar Hong Kong optimistic about green light despite regulatory delays

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The Hong Kong government says it is reviewing its criteria for local carriers and will not process applications from new airlines in the meantime - a move that could spell further delays for Jetstar Hong Kong's launch.

"The authority reviews existing policies at times in order to enhance the relevant arrangements. It is currently reviewing its regime for the designation of local carriers. It will not process any application from new airlines before the completion of the review," says the country's Transport and Housing bureau.

It notes that any entity that wants to start an airline in Hong Kong must first meet the relevant requirements, including having the business incorporated in Hong Kong, and having the country as its principal place of business. Even though these two factors, together with the airline's shareholding structure, will be taken into account, they are not exclusive determining factors, it adds.

When contacted, a Jetstar Hong Kong spokeswoman says it is working through the regulatory process and remains confident of getting approval before the end of the year.

She adds: "We're confident that we will meet all requirements, including the principal place of business. Jetstar Hong Kong is a local entity with its headquarters overlooking Hong Kong International Airport. It is led by a local management team and will employ a significant majority of its 600 future employees locally."

However, local media reports have surfaced, saying that Jetstar plans to introduce a local shareholder to meet the requirement for operating air services in Hong Kong. Its spokeswoman would not comment on this.

Jetstar Hong Kong is a joint venture between Qantas Airways - through its subsidiary Jetstar - and China Eastern Airlines. The two carriers will invest a combined total of $198 million in the joint venture, with each holding a 50% share.

In March, Flightglobal Pro reported that the launch was pushed back by up to six months to the second half of 2013, as the carrier continues to await approval from the Hong Kong government. Jetstar Hong Kong applied for its air operator's certificate last July.