Cathay Pacific agreed to buy Hong Kong Express a couple of weeks ago. It was due to pay the owners, Hong Kong Airlines US$153 million as its first payment, but that has been held up with the failure of Hong Kong express to dispose of two 744F freighters under its ownership, as they appear to have been purchased under dubious arrangements.
A case that dated from 2009 and was dismissed in 2015 in the Southern District of New York, suggests that an American businessman paid a Japanese intermediary a bribe of US$1m as part of the deal.
HNA Group who own HKA and HKE sourced through a company called Bravia, three ex ANA 744’s for conversion to freighters.
HKE still ‘owns’ two of them despite them never being registered in Hong Kong and they’re operated by Turkish carrier AirACT.
The third 744F is operated by HNA Group subsidiary Suparna Airlines, through a Shanghai subsidiary. Nobody can work out exactly who the registered owners are in the easiest legal terms, but all of them were financed by China Development Bank Leasing.
HK Express has never managed or used the aircraft, they’re just listed under its ownership in yet another Byzantine complex of webs and legalities that have come to represent the most murky company in history; HNA Group.
HNA Group made things more complicated by asking one of its subsidiaries subsidiaries – Avolon, that it part owns through Bohai Capital, to buy the aircraft from HKE but they refused because the aircraft weren’t worth what was being asked.
It’s believed the aircraft are TC-ACF & TC-ACG operated by AirACT for Saudia Cargo, and B-2437 at Suparna.
Until their status is confirmed and they are not on HKE’s books Cathay Pacific won’t pay, and desperate for cash Hong Kong Airlines still muddles along.