Greater Bay Airlines (HB, Hong Kong Int'l) is set to begin commercial flight operations after it secured its air operator's certificate (AOC) from the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department (HKCAD) on October 8.

AOC #19 is valid until October 31, 2022, and by itself, allows the start-up to offer passenger and cargo charter flights. However, as previously reported, GBA's air transport licence (ATL), needed for scheduled flights, is still pending given the Air Transport Licensing Authority's (ATLA) decision to allow comments from Cathay Pacific (CX, Hong Kong Int'l) and Hong Kong Airlines (HX, Hong Kong Int'l) to be heard during a closed-door meeting in December.

Earlier this year, a source familiar with the two airlines and the aviation policy landscape told the South China Morning Post that one possible motive for the December inquiry was that Cathay had successfully argued Covid-19 had left the sector too weak to sustain a new competitor. Another possibility, however, is simply that the ATLA has its own concerns over GBA’s ownership structure. In 2015, the authority blocked Jetstar Hong Kong's launch on the grounds that its Principal Place of Business (PPB) did not conform to local laws that require it to be in Hong Kong.

GBA's current fleet consists of a single B737-800 although it has mentioned plans to add two more by the end of the year. It is aiming to expand its fleet to more than 30 aircraft in 2026.