The airline was established as CR Airways in 2001 and started operations on 5 July 2003. It was the first aircraft operator to receive its air operator's certificate since Hong Kong became a special administrative region of the People's Republic of China.
The airline changed its name to "Hong Kong Airlines Limited" on 30 September 2006. It was previously owned by Robert Yip Kwong and Yu Ming Investments .
On June 21, 2007, the airline signed an MOU with Airbus to acquire 30 Airbus A320, 20 Airbus A330, and one . The order has since been firmed up. . It is unclear what will happen with the MOU with Boeing.