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Cathay Pacific’s HK Express rolls out cheap seats to beat regional rivals. But will low-cost fares to Japan, Taiwan lure budget travellers?

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A round trip Lite ticket from Hong Kong to Osaka between May 15 and 22 will set travellers back HK$1,945 (US$249) after taxes and other extra fees, according to HK Express’ website.

A trip on the same dates flying low-cost Japanese carrier Peach Aviation costs HK$1,881 in a ticket category similar to Lite, with passengers able to bring two carry-on bags of up to 7kg each but no checked luggage.

Visitors at an observation deck looking out on Azabudai Hills in Tokyo. Photo: Reuters

The price jumps to HK$2,445 for HK Express and HK$2,581 for Peach after including one 20kg checked bag.

For those who fancy a holiday in Tokyo, HK Express remains slightly more affordable at HK$2,033 for a Lite ticket against competitor Hong Kong Airlines’ HK$2,273 “Basic” fare, climbing to HK$2,656 and HK$2,693, respectively, when a 20kg checked bag is added.

Thailand

For services to Bangkok, Thai AirAsia offers a better deal at HK$1,288 compared with HK Express’ HK$1,675 Lite seat.

The addition of a piece of 20kg luggage increases the price of Thai AirAsia’s ticket to HK$1,809 and HK Express’ to HK$2,175, with passengers on the former also receiving a meal.

Taiwan

The most affordable round trip flight between Hong Kong and Taipei from May 15 to 22 belongs to newcomer Greater Bay Airlines.

Its “Go Go” ticket at HK$1,196 is HK$81 cheaper than HK Express’ Lite, both without checked baggage.

But the roles reverse when opting for a 20kg checked bag, with HK Express charging HK$1,777 versus Greater Bay Airlines’ HK$2,146.

Taiwanese carriers EVA Airways and China Airlines also offer competitive prices on the same route. A seat on EVA costs HK$1,860 with a 23kg piece of checked luggage and a meal included. China Airlines is a slightly cheaper option at HK$1,790.

South Korea

HK Express’ biggest competitor in South Korea is low-cost airline T’way Air. The Korean carrier offers three classes of tickets – “Event Fare” with just a 10kg carry-on bag, “Smart Fare” which includes a 15kg checked bag and “Normal Fare” which bumps the luggage weight up to 20kg.

T’way Air had sold out its round trip tickets for the Post’s dates from Hong Kong to Seoul by Wednesday. But for the week of May 22 to May 29, the Event Fare comes in at a much more affordable HK$1,198 against HK Express’ HK$1,738 Lite ticket.

Adding 20kg of checked luggage changes the equation, however, as HK Express’ Essential ticket beats T’way’s comparable “Normal Fare” at HK$2,238 against HK$5,738.

HK Express’ biggest competitor in South Korea is low-cost airline T’way Air. Photo: EPA-EFE

The Philippines

AirAsia’s Philippine branch again offers cheaper flights to Manila in all categories.

The carrier’s entry-level round-trip ticket from May 15 to 22, with no checked baggage, costs just HK$1,115 compared with HK Express’ HK$1,401.

AirAsia remains the cheapest at HK$1,530 when adding a 20kg bag and an in-flight meal, a more affordable option than the Essential HK$1,901 fare, which does not include a meal.

Singapore

Scoot, the budget arm of Singapore’s flag carrier, is the cheapest option for passengers looking to fly to the Lion City from Hong Kong between May 15 to May 22, with HK Express not operating flights to the city state.

The cost of a return trip is about HK$1,900, without the addition of any checked baggage. Scoot generally offers a more generous cabin baggage policy than HK Express, with passengers allowed both a personal item and a carry-on suitcase with a combined weight of under 10kg.

However, those who opt for checked baggage must shell out HK$185 for 20kg, the minimum capacity available. This brings the total to about HK$2,270.

The second cheapest option is offered by Greater Bay Airlines. Its lowest return fare to Singapore costs HK$2,074 under its “Go Go” ticket, which limits passengers to one carry-on bag under 7kg.

Those who want the addition of 20kg of check-in luggage – the only available option for checked baggage – will need to pay HK$300 for each leg of their journey, or HK$2,674 in total.

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