When Hong Kong Airlines kitted out three sparkling new planes exclusively with business class cabins, sceptics were quick to point out the financial risks with starting an all-premium service.
But the airline didn’t let the failings of similar all-business long-haul ventures such as MAXjet, Eos and Silverjet in 2007/8, the difficult economic climate in Europe, or high fuel costs stand in its way.
In March, the carrier kick-started daily all-business class flights between Hong Kong and Gatwick Airport and at lower fares than rival airlines serving the Hong Kong to London market.
But it appears the numbers haven’t stacked up for Hong Kong Airlines, which has confirmed that it’s cancelling the service in September: six months after getting it off the ground.
Reports on Wednesday blamed poor demand and weak economic outlook in Europe, but the airline hasn’t immediately responded to requests for comment.
A Hong Kong Airlines spokesperson only said that the airline will be focusing on serving its “more profitable” regional Asian routes.
Passengers booked to travel on the service from September 10 will be offered refunds or the chance to re-book.
The airline was banking on attracting business and premium-leisure travellers looking for a luxury, “private jet style ambiance” at lower fares.
Soon after its launch, we found round-trip fares costing £1,875: roughly half the cost of what many major airlines charge for the same journey.
The grounding of the service is a further setback for the carrier, whose expansion plans have been blocked by Hong Kong’s aviation regulator following complaints about its service standards.