Qantas taps into Chinese market with Jetstar Hong Kong deal


MELBOURNE, Australia – Australia’s largest airline Qantas and China Eastern Airlines sold a stake of 66 million U.S. dollars in their budget airline joint venture to a Hong Kong- listed company, in a bid to pave way for an operating licence, local media reported Thursday.

Shun Tak Holdings Limited will take a 33.3% stake of Jetstar Hong Kong, a low-price carrier, which was launched last year but is still awaiting ratification for its air operator’s licence.

Shun Tak Holdings has become a one third equal investor in Jetstar Hong Kong with Australia’s Qantas Group and China Eastern, according to a statement released by Qantas. In the new structure, all three investors will put in 66 million U.S. dollars.

Jetstar Hong Kong said the new shareholding structure will not affect Jetstar Hong Kong’s planned capitalization of a maximum of 198 million U.S. dollars.

“Jetstar Hong Kong intends to fly to destinations within five hours of Hong Kong and is considering destinations in Southeast Asia, Japan, South Korea and Mainland China,” according to Jetstar Hong Kong’s statement.

According to a previously revealed plan, there will be 18 aircrafts for operations in Jetstar Hong Kong.

In February of last year, Qantas announced it had entered a new alliance with China Eastern to create Jetstar Hong Kong in China and declared the new company would begin flights in 2013.

However, failure to get an certificate from the Hong Kong government has delayed the operation.

Analysts said a local partner in Hong Kong would help Qantas and China Eastern off the hook.

The Jetstar Group is a subsidiary of Qantas based in Melbourne, with airlines in Singapore, Japan, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand. It operates up to 3,000 flights a week to almost 60 destinations.

Founded by Macao casino tycoon Stanley Ho, Shun Tak Holdings Limited is active in shipping, property and investments businesses.