Cathay Pacific is in discussions with low cost carrier HK Express over a possible purchase.
The Hong-Kong flag carrier confirmed the news on March 5, 2019, claiming it is in “active discussions about an acquisition” that involves HK Express and adding that “no agreement for the acquisition has been entered into” yet.
Cathay Pacific also acknowledged that there are “media reports” suggesting its interest in Hong Kong Airlines shares, but made no further comments on this topic.
This is not the first time Cathay Pacific is buying into other Hong Kong airlines. In 1994, it bought 75% shares of cargo airline Air Hong Kong, upgrading its stake to a 100% in 2002.
In 1990, together with two other investors, Cathay Pacific bought into its first local competitor in 40 years, Dragonair. In 2006, Cathay Pacific increased its stake to a 100%, rebranding its now wholly owned subsidiary as Cathay Dragon in 2016.
HK Express is partly owned by the debt-ridden HNA Group conglomerate. In December 2018, speculation emerged that the group was looking to sell (some of its) stakes in Hong Kong Express and Hong Kong Airlines.
“HK Express shareholders have held initial discussions with strategic investors on the potential acquisition,” HK Express has informed AeroTime via email. “No details have been confirmed and no agreement has been entered into. Normal operations remain at HK Express, continuing to offer convenient, flexible services to its travellers”.