A decision by Greater Bay Airlines (HB, Hong Kong International) to rely on the B737-9 for fleet growth may come back to bite the recently launched airline, with an inflight incident in the United States earlier this month likely to hold up the type's certification in Hong Kong.

Now operating five B737-800s, Greater Bay Airlines ordered fifteen B737-9s in March 2023, with deliveries starting later this year and running through 2027. However, no Hong Kong-based operator flies B737 MAX types and Greater Bay Airlines had to initiate a certification process with Hong Kong's Civil Aviation Department.

In early January 2024, a plugged B737-9 emergency exit door blew out on an Alaska Airlines (AS, Seattle Tacoma International) flight causing jurisdictions and operators worldwide to temporarily ground the type pending inspections.

“What has happened isn’t helping the (certification) process,” Greater Bay CEO Stanley Hui told Bloomberg last week. "After this accident, Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department will be even more careful in scrutinizing (the planes)," he said.

Greater Bay's existing B737-800s connect Hong Kong with Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Ho Chi Minh City, Osaka Kansai, Manila Ninoy Aquino International, Seoul Incheon, Taipei Taoyuan, and Tokyo Narita. Hui has previously said the carrier, which only began revenue flights in mid-2022, was heavily reliant on the B737-9 for its expansion plans.

"Flight safety is always the first priority at Greater Bay Airlines, "reads a statement from the airline following the incident. "We are highly concerned about the recent Alaska Airlines incident. The airline will keep communicating with the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department and follow up closely with Boeing."

The Civil Aviation Department told Bloomberg it "may consider imposing additional requirements when more relevant information becomes available."