Hong Kong is set to award Greater Bay Airlines its air operating certificate (AOC) as soon as Friday, the Post has learned, paving the way for the fledgling carrier to start flying passengers.
According to people with knowledge of the imminent decision, the move would allow the ambitious carrier to launch charter flights while it awaited an additional key licence necessary for its operations.
The carrier is led by former Cathay Dragon CEO Algernon Yau Ying-wah and many ex-airline colleagues.
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The airline is still waiting for a second permit, its air transport licence, to organise regularly scheduled flights, in a decision pushed into 2022. But the AOC would confirm its formal status as an airline.
The awarding of the AOC comes less than two weeks after the regulator, the Civil Aviation Department, oversaw a proving flight - as part of its flight operation inspections into its procedures - to Bangkok.
Bangkok, Phuket and Singapore are the first regularly scheduled destinations sought by Greater Bay once it gets both permits.
Greater Bay and rival airlines will meet air licensing officials in December as part of a private hearing to review whether the new carrier should be granted the transport licence and a share of Hong Kong's air traffic rights.
Greater Bay Airlines has accused incumbents Cathay Pacific Airways, sister carrier HK Express and Hong Kong Airlines of trying to drag out its application process despite not formally objecting to its bid for traffic rights.
After the hearing delay to December, the airline pushed back its launch to the first quarter of 2022.
The arrival of the AOC comes late for the carrier which initially wanted to launch a charter flight from Hong Kong to Beijing to mark the 72nd anniversary of the People's Republic of China.
More to follow …