Bankrupt Chinese conglomerate HNA Group announced on its WeChat social media channel on December 8 that it had officially handed control of its core aviation business, including Hainan Airlines Holding, to strategic investor Liaoning Fangda Group Industrial.

It also said that Gu Gang, an official the government of Hainan Province appointed to lead a working group to resolve HNA's debt risk and oversee its restructuring, would no longer act as the conglomerate's Communist Party secretary after the handover, having already achieved restructuring headway and risk mitigation.

“We met in unexpected times and cherished each other’s company,” HNA Group added. “We wish Hainan Airlines (HU, Haikou) and all its brother airlines a safe landing and rebirth.”

At the end of September, Gu told a gathering of 2,000 party officials and employees that HNA Group owed CNY1.1 trillion yuan (USD173 billion) to creditors. The sum, cited as the group’s total liabilities for the first time, was out of CNY2 trillion (USD315 billion) in claims creditors had submitted since the bankruptcy process began in January.

It was also in September that Hainan Airlines first said that Fangda Group would become its proposed strategic investor. HNA Group is being broken up into four units separating its aviation, airport, financial, and commercial businesses, and Fangda - also a conglomerate, involved in sectors such as carbon, steel, and pharmaceuticals - is taking on the aviation part.

Last week, Hainan Airlines Holding revealed a CNY50 billion (USD7.88 billion) plan to reduce its debts as part of its restructuring. Liaoning Fangda Group has agreed to acquire the holdco including Hainan Airlines and subsidiaries Air Changan, China Xinhua Airlines, Fuzhou Airlines, GX Airlines, Lucky Air (China), Shanxi Airlines, Urumqi Air, HNA Aviation Technology, Beijing Kehang Investment, and Hainan Fushun Investment and Development.