Hong Kong Airlines was troubled long before protests erupted in the Chinese Special Administrative Region, keeping travelers away. Parent HNA Group was under strict orders to deleverage, with the government concerned about over $100 billion in debt.
HNA had problems paying for fuel. They had problems meeting interest obligations. They missed a $43 million debt payment last year and offered travel vouchers instead of cash to repay its investors.
Offer for free tickets in lieu of interest repayment
Seven months ago the chaos reached a point where there were even rival CEOs, each with their own teams, and no one even knew who was in charge.
Now, layering on the hit to revenue from Hong Kong protests, the airline hasn’t been meeting payroll and has cut back flying – even announcing plans to end its last long haul route (to Vancouver).
And in the latest desperate move they’ve even shut down their inflight entertainment system. Provider Global Eagle no doubt doesn’t want to be left on the hook paying licensing fees for entertainment while facing the prospect of not being paid themselves.
Hong Kong regulators could strip the airline of its license. It could go out of business. But it’s not clear how it has a path towards sustainability let alone profitability at this point absent an infusion of cash that would constitute more subsidy than investment.