Hong Kong’s government gave the troubled airline just 5 days “to find new cash or last-minute investors, or face having its operating licence suspended or even revoked.”
The carrier, which has been controlled by China’s HNA Group that’s been ordered by Chinese authorities to reduce a debt load that exceeded $100 billion, has faced major troubles over the last year.
- Problems paying for fuel
- Problems paying employees
- Problems paying investors (HNA even offered investors airline tickets in lieu of interest payments)
They’ve announced the elimination of all of their long haul routes. And their inflight entertainment system was turned off when provider Global Eagle no longer believed they’d get paid and was therefore unwilling to incur licensing costs for content on behalf of the Hong Kong airline.
HNA now has to either invest cash in the airline – though they’ve lacked cash, hence the order from regulators to reduce exposure to risk – or find new investors. In other words, HNA is caught between Chinese regulators concerned about the company’s profligate investments and debt, and Hong Kong aviation regulators concerned about the lack of investment and cash in an airline, and therefore its ability to continue to operate (and do so safely).
Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department has been conducting “inspections about every two days to ensure aviation safety was not affected.” The carrier’s problems, while not helped by reduced demand for Hong Kong travel resulting from protests, have been serious since long before those protests.
Without a new cash infusion, customers certainly shouldn’t be buying tickets on the airline, which creates its own self-fulfilling challenges.