The carrier has worked hard to reduce its unit cost and also to maximise the use of its slots at slot restricted Hong Kong International. By October 2015 it could celebrate reducing its unit cost to within 15-20% of the market leader AirAsia. This might not sound great but Hong Kong is a much higer cost airport to oerate from than those AirAsia frequents.
The A320ceo fleet was configured with between 174 and 180 seats but this was not enough for HK Express and when it went shopping for new aircraft it looked for solutions to enable it to squeeze every last drop of profit from its fleet. It has done this by increasing capacity. This is one of the time honoured ways of reducing costs for an LCC but HK Express is going to the extremes, presumably assisted by the smaller physiques of its primarily Asian customer base less impacted by tighter seating than Westerners.
The airline's first Airbus A321, B-LEA, of 13 ordered, arrived on October 29, 2016 and was put on the Chaing Mai route two days later. It is equipped with a high density 230 seat configuration (10 more than normal) making HK Express the first airline in North Asia to operate the type with that layout. The cabins also feature all-new interiors with more ergonomic seats offering a pitch of 30 inches. A second A321 arrived in November with the pair to be deployed on routes to Osaka, Seoul, Tokyo, Jeju, Fukuoka and Taichung.
The deliveries came as the airline marked its 3rd anniversary as an LCC and to celebrate it launched a musical chairs game on its website giving passengers the chance to win 250 tickets to a surprise destination over a 4 day period. A grand prize provided a 3 night holiday to Chiang Mai.
Not content with the A321s alone HK Express had already ordered 12 A320neos which would be equipped with a record breaking 188 seats. That is 2 more seats than Easyjet crams into its A320s. A redesign of the neos' interior has allowed for six extra seats in place of a toilet row, whilst :smart-lav" technology enables the rear lavatory to be slotted into the galley gifting space for 2 more seats.
The first A320neo (B-LCL) arrived on December 12, 2016 and was named 'Shark' in support of the Hong Kong Shark Foundation. The airline had already pledged to implement a shark-free cargo policy to assist in combating the trade in shark fins. The neos are expected to enable average fuel savings of 20% per flight.
HK Express is an airline on the up especially as a founder member of the low cost airline UFly Alliance. Eagerly awaiting the third runway at Hong Kong it is building a strong reputation for low cost travel in a previously high cost market and now serves over 30 cities in 11 countries from Guam to Mandalay.
2015, October. Budget carrier Hong Kong Express to add more seats. South China Morning Post
2016, November. HK Express receives its first A321. The Business Traveller
2106, November. HK Express updates planned A321 operations. Routes Online
2016, December. HK Express Welcomes First A320neo to Hong Kong. hkexpress.com
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I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: