Hong Kong Airways

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Not to be confused with Hong Kong Airlines.
Hong Kong Airways
Hong Kong Airways logo
Commenced operations 1944
Ceased operations 1959
Operating bases Kai Tak Airport
Fleet size See Fleet below
Destinations See Destinations below
Parent company British Overseas Airways Corporation and Jardine, Matheson & Co.
Headquarters British Hong Kong
Hong Kong Airways
Traditional Chinese 香港航空
Simplified Chinese 香港航空

Hong Kong Airways (Chinese: 香港航空) was a flag carrier of British Hong Kong during the late 1940s and 1950s.

Context of launch[edit]

In 1946 Jardine Air Maintenance Company (JAMCo) had been formed to serve the rapidly expanding portfolio of airlines serving Hong Kong and Jardine Airways was formed as the general sales agent in Hong Kong and China of BOAC and other carriers. HKA was formed in 1947, by BOAC and Jardine, Matheson & Co.(怡和). Jardines wanted to develop a Hong Kong carrier with the support of a British government backed enterprise. BOAC wanted to create a feeder carrier to transport passengers from their London to Hong Kong service to onward destinations in China and the Far East. Additionally the government in London wanted to develop a new market for British manufactured aircraft. Jardines were general sales agents of HKA and became owners before selling to government backed partner BOAC.

Jardine/BOAC and Swire/Cathay Pacific battle for Hong Kong Aviation franchise[edit]

In May 1949 an agreement was signed by Cathay Pacific (Jock Swire) and BOAC (on behalf of Hong Kong Airways) along Governor Alexander Grantham's lines of route allocation to each party. Cathay secured the valuable routes to and from Bangkok, Singapore, Haiphong, Saigon, Sandakan, Jesselton (now Kota Kinabalu) and Labuan, and Rangoon (with an extension possible to Calcutta). That left HKA with Canton, Macao, Shanghai and Tientsin, not, after all, Japan. On 1 December 1949 BOAC sold Hong Kong Airways back to Jardines,[1] but it soon ran for cover to another 'big brother', in a charter association with the American company Northwest Airlines on the Taipei and Tokyo services. Then in 1953, the British Government attempted to bring about a merger between Cathay Pacific, BOAC and Hong Kong Airways to form a single regional airline. This eventually led to Cathay Pacific taking over Hong Kong Airways on 1 July 1959 with BOAC getting 15 per cent of Cathay Pacific's shares and a seat on the Board.


JAMco was merged with Swire/Cathay Pacific maintenance interests, to from HAECO, on 1 November 1950. After the merger of JAMCo to form HAECO Jardines did receive a parcel of HAECO shares but this gradually waned. HKA itself merged with Cathay Pacific on 1 July 1959. Jardine Airways remained the exclusive General Sales Agent in Hong Kong for British Airways until the year 2000. Another Jardine affiliate Eupo Air (歐亞) chartered seats for distribution primarily amongst the Chinese community on British Airways flights on the Hong Kong to London route from 1983 to 2002, a similar partnership to that of HKA and Northwest Airlines in the 1950s. Today (2013) Jardines (怡和) largest aviation interest in Hong Kong is Jardine Aviation Services a ground handling business, however, Eupo Air still partners British Airways and Jardine Travel provides retail agency service plus corporate travel & expense management. The Swire Group (太古) is still (2013) the principal shareholder in Cathay Pacific. Dragonair is now owned by Cathay Pacific flying some of the routes originally pioneered by HKA. On this basis it can be concluded that the battle for Hong Kong aviation was roundly won by the Swire Group.


Hong Kong Airways operated a fleet of aircraft including:


Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On 11 July 1949, a Hong Kong Airways Douglas DC-3 (VR-HDQ) from Hong Kong to Canton, overran the runway during takeoff and crashed into the water. The aircraft sank after the rescue operations. There were 11 occupants on board the aircraft, three crew and eight passengers, with no fatalities reported.[2]


  1. ^ "B.O.A.C. Sell Out in Hong Kong". Dundee Courier. British Newspaper Archive. 28 November 1949. Retrieved 8 July 2014. (subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ a b "Accident description – Douglas C-47A-40-DL VR-HDQ". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "The World's Airlines" (PDF). Flight. Reed Business Information. 21 May 1954. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  4. ^ "Civil Aviation News" (PDF). Flight. Reed Business Information. 21 October 1948. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  5. ^ "Hong Kong-Shanghai Service" (PDF). Flight. Reed Business Information. 1 January 1948. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "Hong Kong" (PDF). Flight. Reed Business Information. 22 August 1958. Retrieved 6 August 2009. 

pg 117 of "Beyond Lion Rock" Young, Gavin 1988 pg 236 of "The Thistle & the Jade" Keswick, Maggie Ed. 1982