Gambling tycoon Stanley Ho buys stake in Qantas-China Eastern budget airline in Hong Kong

HONG KONG – Asian casino tycoon Stanley Ho’s transport company is buying a stake in a budget airline that Qantas and China Eastern Airlines are setting up in Hong Kong.

Shun Tak Holdings said Thursday it’s paying $66 million for a third of the new venture that will fly under the Jetstar brand.

Australia’s Qantas and Shanghai-based China Eastern said in March last year that they were investing up to $198 million to launch the low-cost carrier to serve swelling numbers of Chinese travellers.

The venture was expected to start operating by mid-2013. But it has faced delays as it seeks regulatory approval.

Landing a local partner may help the venture secure that approval.

China Eastern said the new carrier would buy 18 Airbus A320 jets over the first three years of operation.