Virgin Australia has been nothing if not slow to expand its international network, relying on codeshare partnerships, rather than its own fleet, to add destinations to its roster. But that looks set to change as the airline has confirmed it will launch a new service to Hong Kong, likely from Melbourne, and re-confirmed their intention to fly to Mainland China, too.
Notably, this service used to be catered by Virgin Atlantic, however they dropped the route in May 2014. Since then, Cathay Pacific and Qantas have been dominating the market with the only direct flights between the two countries.
Virgin Australia group CEO Borghetti said these new services, as well as a new alliance agreement with HNA Aviation, Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express, were a “game changer for travel between Australia and China, providing significantly more competition and choice for travellers.”
The airline will use one of their A330 jets for the route, which they currently use for the East-to-West Coast service, celebrated for having some of the best business class seats in market – including direct aisle access for every passenger in the class.
There’s no indication of the schedule for the flights (expect more news in early April, following regulatory approval), but expect connections with Virgin Atlantic onto London, as well as flights to mainland China with Beijing Capital Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Tianjin Airlines.
The airline also hopes to announce direct services between Australia and Mainland China in the near future – though emphasizes that with the new codeshare partnership with HNA Aviation, Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express, Hong Kong route will serve as a gateway to mainland China for Virgin travellers in the meantime. While those who fly with Beijing Capital Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Tianjin Airlines will also be able to book travel on Virgin’s international and domestic network.
Velocity Frequent Flyers will also be able to look forward to the ability to earn points, status credits and lounge access through the Fortune Wings Club, with full details still forthcoming. Watch this space!