* Says operating one brand of aircraft will lift efficiency
* H1 net profit down about 50 pct on year
* Company focusing on regional and China routes
* No decision on fate of A380 order
By Alison Leung
HONG KONG, Aug 15 Hong Kong Airlines plans to
replace a number of Boeing planes with Airbus jets and
delay delivery of six Boeing freight jets past 2015 from
an earlier target of 2013-14 as it seeks to cut costs and unify
President Yang Jianhong said the unit of China's HNA Group
would replace five Boeing 787-800 and two B737-300
cargo jets with Airbus A330 and A320 planes this year, aiming to
raise efficiency by operating just one brand of aircraft.
The company's fleet size of 26 will remain unchanged, he
Partly the property of China's fourth largest carrier,
Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines has had a tough
few weeks, with Hong Kong's aviation regulator halting the
expansion of its 20-strong passenger fleet following complaints
about service standards.
That block raised fresh doubts about billions of dollars of
orders lodged with Airbus by the airline, including an
order for 10 A380s, also threatened by a row between China and
the European Union over carbon emission charges.
Yang said his company, which competes with the city's
dominant carrier Cathay Pacific Airways, had no
decision yet on the fate of the A380 order.
"We have good relations with Airbus and communicate
constantly," he said, but declined to comment further.
Hong Kong Airlines also operates six cargo planes via its
subsidiary, Hong Kong Express, and has orders for six B777
freighters set to deliver in 2013 and 2014.
"We will initially push the delivery of Boeing freighters to
after 2015 and will review the situation later," Yang said.
Hong Kong Airlines has been hurt by economic uncertainty in
Europe which has weighed on passenger and cargo traffic and hurt
some of the big industry players such as Cathay and regional
rival Singapore Airlines.
It airline has announced the suspension of loss-making
business-class only flights between London Gatwick and Hong Kong
from September after about six months of operation.
"The European debt crisis has had a big impact on demand and
there is limited chance for improvement in the short term," Yang
said, adding the carrier would focus on building its regional
network, especially on Chinese routes.
Yang said the company's first-half net profit fell about 50
percent from a year ago, partly hit by weak demand for its
London route. He declined to disclose the profit amount.
Hong Kong Airlines had no financial problem and its parent
would fully support the firm, HNA director Chen Wenli said.
The carrier, which delayed its planned $300 million initial
public offering in Hong Kong last year, would not list its
shares this year, but may consider an IPO in 2013, he said.
It was also considering a merger with Hainan Airlines, which
is also controlled by HNA Group, Yang added.