Virgin Australia unveils Australia-Hong Kong flights, opening China route

Ivan Schwartz
March 21, 2017

Australia announced an open skies agreement with China with nearly no fanfare late previous year, and like the Qantas group, Virgin Australia hasn't exactly gone into full festive mode at the medium to longer term implications of that.

"Virgin Australia's entry into Hong Kong and Greater China is a key pillar of our worldwide strategy, allowing us to tap into Australia's fastest growing and most valuable inbound travel market", Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti said in a statement.

Tickets for this route go on sale tomorrow 22 March, with the first flights taking off on 5 July 2017.

The aerial dogfight will be fought on more equal terms: while Virgin Australia's newest A330 business class may be arguably superior on specification to those of Qantas and Cathay Pacific, the incumbent's pointy-end product is more than good enough to give would-be defectors pause before changing sides. These will operate on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with the first flights taking off from Melbourne in the morning, departing at 12:35am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 9:40am on Mondays and 10:25am on Wednesdays.

Ticket sales will begin on Wednesday, Virgin said.

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Virgin Australia's Airbus A330-200 fleet features the airline's award-winning Business Class suites, "The Business", which was recently recognised as the world's best Business Class by Airline Ratings1, as well as 255 economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration.

There were also other areas of cooperation to achieve "cost synergies through aircraft scale and utilisation benefits as well as benefits from using catering, ground handling, cargo and other operational benefits". It will also allow guests from Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines to connect onto Virgin Australia's expansive domestic and trans-Tasman network.

Melbourne has always been touted as the next major route for Virgin Australia - but the airliner will face stiff competition from current operators like Qantas and Cathay Pacific.

Flights on the new route are on sale subject to final approval of Virgin's alliance with HNA by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Currently, Hong Kong Airlines serves Cairns and the Gold Coast.

Other reports by GizPress

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