Major Chinese Investor Acquires Minority Share in Harbour Air to Bring Commuter Seaplane Service to China
Vancouver/Chongqing — Harbour Air, the world’s largest seaplane airline, has entered into a strategic partnership with China’s Zongshen Industrial Group Co., Ltd. (Zongshen Group) to export the seaplane commuter service to major cities throughout China.
Zongshen Group, founded and run by the highly respected Chinese billionaire and entrepreneur Zuo Zongshen, has acquired a minority share in Harbour Air. Zongshen Group believes Harbour Air has built a model for seaplane commuter air travel that will benefit millions of Chinese living in cities on the coast or near major waterways.
The strategic partnership will not impact Canadian control of Harbour Air, whose Canadian ownership retains 75 per cent of voting shares. All Canadian regulatory requirements have been satisfied.
“This strategic partnership is a tremendous opportunity for Harbour Air, its employees and Canadian aviation to export its services and grow,” said Harbour Air founder Greg McDougall, who will continue on as CEO. “We have created an airline model that can be applied to urban markets in countries around the world.
“We are delighted that one of China’s most respected business leaders is investing in the British-Columbia made airline we have built and will take our airline model into the world’s largest marketplace. This unique investment from China is an historic moment for Canadian aviation,” added McDougall.
China has recently opened the door to low-altitude commercial flights, making seaplane travel a viable method of transportation in many of China’s cities on the coast or near other waterways. Zongshen Group, one of China’s largest public companies, intends to work with Harbour Air and its employees to create seaplane services in key China markets. It will offer air travel to millions of Chinese, many of whom are many hours away from airports but near waterways where seaplane bases can be established.
“China’s rate of urbanization creates enormous demands for innovative transportation needs,” said Zuo. “In partnership with Harbour Air, we will bring this unique airline model to China to give the Chinese people an efficient, affordable and sustainable way to travel and connect with each other.”
Started in 1982 by CEO Greg McDougall, with just two aircraft, Harbour Air has become the world’s largest seaplane airline, an essential part of British Columbia’s transportation system that connects the province’s coastal cities and communities. The scheduled airline has an average of 200 flights a day and 60,000 flights per year that transport more than 420,000 passengers annually. It is also the world’s first airline to offset all its greenhouse gas emissions from all flights and corporate operations by purchasing offsets.
“Harbour Air will continue to be operated as it always has been, with a commitment to service, safety and sustainability that leads the industry,” said McDougall. “I’m proud of the people who have helped me build Harbour Air. We will continue to build Harbour Air together in China and new markets. We have created an airline that will be a British Columbian — and Canadian — export to the world.”
Zongshen Group was founded in 1992 by Zuo Zongshen, who started as a motorcycle mechanic in 1983, and became one of the leading motorcycle and engine companies in China. Zongshen Group is dedicated to the continuous expansion of its business segments, now cooperating with strategic partners to strengthen the development of the general aviation market in China and to integrate overseas technology with local manufacturing. The Zongshen Group seeks to become the industry leader in China’s emerging general aviation industry.