Hong Kong Airlines plays down growth ban

Hong Kong Airlines played down the impact on its business of an unprecedented aviation authority ban on expanding further until it meets all safety requirements for operating a larger fleet.

The Civil Aviation Department (CAD) on July 17 added a condition to the carrier's air operator's certificate limiting the types of aircraft the company could operate.

"With a very rapid expansion of HKA's aircraft fleet in recent years, the CAD considered that it was time for HKA to catch up with its current fleet size by consolidating their existing operations," a CAD spokeswoman told AFP.

"The air operator's certificate variation does not affect HKA's operations of its current aircraft fleet and types," the spokeswoman said, adding that the flight safety of HKA's operations "has not been compromised".

The conditions may be lifted as soon as the airline can demonstrate "that it has the necessary equipment, organisation, staffing, maintenance and other arrangements in place to secure the safe operation of a bigger aircraft fleet".

Hong Kong Airlines was established in 2006 and operates 21 aircraft servicing locations in mainland China and international destinations ranging from Yangon to London.

The airline said it supported the CAD decision, the first such ban by the authority, adding the imposed conditions were "sensible for a company at (their) stage of growth".

"Given the profitability of our regional routes, we believe that we now have the optimal fleet to continue to build a business... focused on Asia Pacific", an HKA spokeswoman told AFP.

HKA flights were severely delayed and cancelled when a typhoon lashed Hong Kong last month, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded, the South China Morning Post reported.

The service disruptions, which occurred a week after the restrictions were imposed on the airline, were caused by a change of maintenance provider, the airline told the Post.

The storm caused a total of 44 passenger flight cancellations and delayed more than 270 flights at Hong Kong airport.

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