DAVID HO is a colourful businessman based in Vancouver.  

In the bamboo network though we hear that this tycoon, sibling of the Hong Kong Tobacco family, is actually spending a lot of his time in Shanghai?   Or in Toronto he also buy his Mom a mansion in Toronto?

Previously he expended a lot of effort starting up Harmony Airways in Canada which has since closed but the flaw in the business plan was perhaps that the then new prime minister of Canada had - and still does, years later - ambiguous feelings towards China.      David Ho though is a nimble character.

David Ho was married to THOMAS FUNG's sister.   His brother is  CHARLES HO, Chair of Global China.   


   Lands JACKIE CHAN as spokesperson

For Vancouver businessman David Ho, it's MY Airways Inc., a name that combines the initials of his late mother's and grandfather's names and also lets Mr. Ho make a pitch for customer service.

"We want MY Airways to become your airways, and we expect to work hard and earn that trust and support every time you fly with us," Mr. Ho said yesterday at a reception at Vancouver International Airport to announce the name of the new airline.

Mr. Ho said MY Airways intends to fill a void left in the market by the collapse of Canada 3000 Inc., which went bankrupt in November. Mr. Ho said service will begin with two Boeing 757s, and fly initially to Florida, Hawaii and Mexico from Vancouver.

Joanna Yoe, MY Airways' manager of corporate affairs, said yesterday that the airline had not yet made a final decision on whether it would lease or purchase the aircraft, and expected to make that decision some time in the next few weeks.

A frequent air traveller -- his family has extensive business interests in Hong Kong -- Mr. Ho said he had been thinking of a charter airline for a few months, and that the idea become a plan when he waited 18 hours in Maui in January for a return flight to Vancouver.

"Like the hundreds of other passengers who were in the same situation, I was fed up," Mr. Ho said. "And that episode reinforced that there was room in the airline business for a carrier that did everything it could to put its customers first."

Mr. Ho, whose business interests in Vancouver include a luxury car dealership and property developments, is to be the sole owner of the airline. The executive team behind the venture includes several former Canada 3000 pilots and employees. Mr. Ho said yesterday the airline is well on its way to securing aircraft, licences and staff, and expects to offer charter flights this summer.

MY Airways is not the only new entrant vying to fill the gap left by Canada 3000's demise. Last month, a group of former Canada 3000 pilots announced plans for Canada West Airlines, a charter airline that would service sun spots such as Florida and Mexico from Calgary and Vancouver.

Representatives from the two fledgling airlines met several times in December to discuss the possibility of a joint venture, but a deal was not reached. Several other groups are working on proposals for the discount, charter and regional markets.  - By Wendy Stueck    Globe & Mail   1 March 2002     

Ho plans to join airline wars Vancouver investor to launch charter service this summer

The proliferation of new airlines in Canada continues, with the announcement by Vancouver businessman David Ho of the launch of yet another proposed carrier.

Mr. Ho yesterday unveiled his plans for My Airways Inc. It is to launch this summer with two Boeing 757s based in Vancouver flying charter flights to Hawaii and Mexico, with the aim of eventually having scheduled service.

Mr. Ho is the son of Charles T.K. Ho, the magnate who heads Hong Kong Tobacco Co. Ltd., leading industry watchers to conclude he will not face the financing challenges other carriers face.

The advent of My Airways brings to at least nine the number of carriers starting up or on the drawing board in the country.

It is a boom reminiscent of the late 1980s, when airlines such as Canada 3000 Inc., Royal Aviation Inc. and a host of others, now dead and largely forgotten, rose to fill the void left by Wardair.

"It's another round of consolidation and exit in the marketplace and then re-entry back into the marketplace," said Sam Barone, principal of Ottawa-based Transportation Partners.

He said there are direct parallels between Wardair and Canada 3000. Both carriers were successful at selling seats through tour operators as charters but ran into trouble after attempting to evolve into full-service, scheduled carriers. Their disappearance has left room in the charter business because tour operators need planes to fly their customers.

The nine carriers are in various stages of development. Most will start with only one or two planes, in some cases turboprops, and mainly target the charter market.

Four are based in Montreal. These include Air Columbus, Canada Air Charter, Canada World Airlines and the planned reincarnation of Royal Aviation.

Two Toronto area groups, including Regional Airlines Holdings Inc., led by Robert Deluce, the former owner of Air Ontario, are looking to launch regional, rather than charter, operations with Dash-8 Turboprops.

The other three are western-based and include Mr. Ho's company, Canada West Airlines, which is also planning charter flights out of Vancouver with two planes in November, and Calgary-based STARS Aviation Canada Inc., which has applied to the Canadian Transportation Agency for licences to operate mid-size aircraft internationally on a charter basis.

Mr. Barone said the carriers -- most of which seem no more than plans on paper -- will need to demonstrate good management, a solid business plan and deals with tour operators for traffic if they are to get start-up money.

The problem of finding airline financing in light of the slow economy and the aftershocks of Sept. 11 were illustrated last week when Angus Kinnear, former president of Canada 3000, abandoned plans to resurrect the carrier due to lack of funds.

"The odds are not very good for them, especially if the business plan is not strong fundamentally and you get a couple of shocks in terms of the psychology of air travel," said Mr. Barone.

Adding to the challenge is that charter players such as Toronto-based Skyservice Airlines, which has grown recently to 21 planes, and Air Transat of Montreal have established themselves as strong charter operators.   - by Peter Fitzpatrick      National Post     1 March 2002

Vancouver entrepreneur David Ho and a group of former employees of Canada 3000 say they're in the process of establishing Vancouver-based charter airlines to fill the void left when Canada 3000 went out of business last November.

Ho said Friday he plans to start up a charter operation, flying initially to Florida, Mexico and Hawaii, then later to Asia.

"I'm waiting for delivery of two Boeing 757s from Boeing Co. in the next couple of months," said Ho, who owns MCL Motor Cars and the University Golf Club among other businesses.

Frequent traveller Ho said he was motivated to start his own airline after he grew frustrated over having to "wait 18 hours at the airport" in Maui last month for a return flight to Vancouver.

"He wants to have an airline focusing on providing excellent customer service," said Joanna Yoe, manager of corporate affairs for Vancouver-based David T.K. Ho Enterprises Ltd.

Ho, the Hong Kong Tobacco heir, intends to be sole owner of the airline that will start flying once he receives the necessary certificates from Transport Canada. He says he intends to lease larger aircraft for trans-Pacific flights later on.

Yoe said the enterprise has already recruited a chief pilot and several operational personnel, including former Canada 3000 employees, and plans to hire others who were previously with Canadian Airlines International. In total, about 150 positions will be filled.

Ho's airline -- the name will be announced at a Thursday reception at Vancouver International Airport -- has taken over Canada 3000's former airport operations centre, as well as possession of some maintenance and utility vehicles.

Meanwhile, Canada West Airlines principal Gordon Andrews and two partners, all former pilots with Canada 3000, said Friday they are seeking $20 million in financing to get their airline in operation by the end of the year.  Canada West's plan is to lease two narrow-bodied 208-seat Boeing 757s to serve sunspot destinations out of Vancouver in the winter, and Europe in the summer.

"We will be a Western-based, Western-focused charter operation, using the tried and true methods of Westjet and Southwest Airlines, but operating in the charter market rather than short-haul domestic routes," Andrews said in an interview.  

"We feel that the West has been abandoned by Eastern tour operators and Eastern airlines. They don't understand the West and they don't base infrastructure out here."

Andrews said his group met several times in December with Ho's representatives "to discuss synergies" and explore the possibility of doing a joint venture, but the talks broke down.

"We couldn't come to an agreement in terms of vision," Andrews recalled. "Ho wanted us to work for him, but we didn't want to be salaried employees. We wanted to keep a small piece of the action.

"Now we consider ourselves noble competitors."

Andrews said he is gratified Ho has chosen to rescue other jobless former Canada 3000 employees.

Andrews, a 30-year airline industry veteran, said his group has been meeting with potential investors, although he conceded that it is not easy to raise capital for a start-up carrier.

However, he noted that he and his partners, Leagh Farrell and John Scott, have considerable operational and management experience in the aviation industry.  He said Farrell had 22 years with Transport Canada as a certification test pilot before joining Canada 3000 and Scott previously was an accident investigator with the Transportation Safety Board in Ottawa.  During his time at Canada 3000, Scott was national flight safety committee chairman of the Airline Pilots Association Canada, Andrews said.  "We understand how to get an airline up and running," Andrews added. "We provide a broad base of knowledge other than just being able to sit in the front of an airplane and point it West.  "By starting small and staying focused we expect to be profitable."

Vancouver-based airline analyst Peter de Souza confirmed Friday there is a void left by Canada 3000 particularly to sunspot destinations. But he said Europe is well served with wide-bodied aircraft out of Western Canada by scheduled carriers such as Air Canada and British Airways.

And he cautioned that starting an airline with a $20 million debt would be difficult, particularly in tough economic times.  "It's a huge load to carry," he said. "Everybody, domestically and internationally, is really struggling right now. I would suggest that to raise money at this stage would be rather difficult."  Andrews said his group is not deterred by Thursday's announcement that Toronto-based Conquest Vacations, Canada's largest independent tour operator, is expanding into Western Canada in May in partnership with Skyservice Airlines.  "It doesn't change our plans in the least," Andrews said. "We don't intend to compete in the domestic market."

Conquest Vacations president Robbie Goldberg said the expanded service will operate between 10 Canadian cities coast to coast, including Vancouver and Victoria.

He said the service would "offer Canadians more choice at competitive prices to help fill the void left by Canada 3000."

Meanwhile, today marks the scheduled debut of a new charter operation out of Montreal operated by Kelowna-based Kelowna Flightcraft in partnership with Montreal-based travel agency group Neo Tours.

Initially serving sunspot destinations out of Montreal employing one Kelowna Flightcraft Boeing 727, Vacances Air Columbus plans to add aircraft and expand operations to Vancouver by 2003   - by Alan Daniels and Wyng Chow         Vancouver Sun         February 23, 2002     



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