A Greater Bay Airlines aircraft parks at Hong Kong International Airport. Hong Kong's GBA announced on March 3, 2023 an order for 15 Boeing 737-9 airplanes, according to a company statement. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Greater Bay Airlines, a new Hong Kong-based carrier, has ordered 15 Boeing 737-9 Max aircraft and made a commitment to five 787 Dreamliners as it plans to add business-class and international long-haul services amid an uptick in travel enthusiasm.

Greater Bay Airlines Chairman Bill Wong Cho-bau said in a statement on Friday that the purchase order for 737-9 aircraft could offer better economic benefits by expanding its airline network.

It is expected that the 737-9 fleet will help cut operating costs and add destinations given its better carrying capacity and endurance

The carrier sees new 737-9 jets as the linchpin of its future fleet, which could offer more routes between Hong Kong and major cities in the Asia-Pacific region and the Chinese mainland, according to the statement.

It is expected that the 737-9 fleet will help cut operating costs and add destinations given its better carrying capacity and endurance.

Greater Bay Airlines currently operates three older 737-800 jets serving routes to Bangkok, Taipei, Seoul and Tokyo.

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A number of additional old-modeled jets will also be purchased, the carrier said, as it plans to add Japan’s Osaka to its destinations by April this year.

The ceremony for the agreement was attended by Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po, Secretary for Transport and Logistics Lam Sai-hung, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Algernon Yau Ying-wah, and Chief Executive of the Airport Authority Fred Lam Tin-fuk on Friday.

The carrier’s new purchase order has come at a time when Hong Kong’s travel business has already embarked on a new course to recovery with the number of visitors surging since the beginning of the year.

In January alone, Greater Bay Airlines’ rival Cathay Pacific carried a total of 1.03 million passengers following the lifting of travel restrictions, 40 times more than during the same period last year.

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On Wednesday, Hong Kong lifted its mask mandate, marking an end to its long-running anti-pandemic restrictions as well as heralding a fresh start for the city to go all out for the economy.

Among the efforts to boost the city’s economic revival will be luring international travelers back to the city, spearheaded by an all-out promotional campaign “Hello Hong Kong”.

Apart from free airplane tickets for overseas travelers, spending vouchers, a number of major trade shows and conventions, as well as sports and arts events, are set to give the city’s airline businesses a shot in the arm this year.