China’s HNA Group has announced plans to add yet another new airline to its collection, with the launch of a new carrier based in Guilin, southern China.
Guilin Airlines will be a joint venture formed by three locally-based state-run companies, and Guilin Airlines Travel Group, which has been created by HNA Group. The new JV will be registered in Guilin with an initial capital investment of CNY2.5 billion (US$405 million), with HNA holding a 65% stake.
The new carrier will be based at Guilin’s Liangjiang International Airport, in the southern region of Guangxi, which is popular with tourists due to its dramatic limestone karsts and picturesque scenery.
HNA will initially launch Guilin Airlines with three aircraft, operating services to cities including Changchun, Lanzhou and Xining. But in the next three years, the new airline’s fleet is expected to grow to 30 aircraft.
In recent years, HNA, which is the parent company of China’s fourth largest carrier, Hainan Airlines, has been cooperating with local governments to set up a series of subsidiaries. Already established are Beijing Capital Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Lucky Air (based in Yunnan) and China West Air (Chongqing), while two more new region subsidiaries, Fuzhou Airlines (Fujian) and Urumqi Airlines (Xinjiang) are also expected to launch this year.
The new carrier will rival China Southern Airlines, which is currently the dominant carrier at Guilin Airport, while regional carrier China Express Airlines also operates from the hub.