Virgin Australia to service Hong Kong daily from Sydney and Melbourne

1393
July 02, 2018
Virgin Australia Sydney Hong Kong
Media personality Danii Minogue in a colorful send-off for Virgin's new Hog Kong route. Photo: Nick Cubbin/Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia will return its Melbourne-Hong Kong route to year-round daily flights from October 28 as it bolsters its connections to China with its first Sydney-Hong Kong service.

Australia’s no. 2 carrier entered a route dominated by oneworld partners Cathay Pacific and Qantas Monday as its inaugural flight headed off from Sydney to Hong Kong amid celebrations featuring media personality Danii Minogue.

The Australian carrier uses an Airbus A330-200 departing from Sydney at 10am and from Hong Kong at 7:50pm to operate the daily service, offering connections through partners Hong Kong Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

Business class and other eligible travelers use the Etihad lounges in Sydney and Hong Kong Airlines’ Club Autus lounge in Hong Kong.

The move to Hong Kong daily services from Melbourne and Sydney means there will be less of the popular A330 product on Australian trans-continental routes.

This is a blow Virgin Australia boss John Borghetti indicated would be softened by the introduction of a new business class on the less popular Boeing 737s.

However, the airline has yet to release details or timing about the new 737 product.

Borghetti said in February he was bullish about the new Sydney-Hong Route after its Melbourne counterpart had performed well and produced high load factors.

Read: Virgin Boss bullish Sydney-Hong Kong will fly.

He was confident Virgin’s service and product would attract travelers and the route would benefit from its alliance with Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express, both units of Virgin part- owner HNA Group.

The Virgin chief Monday described the new Sydney route as an important milestone for the airline.

“Hong Kong is an important gateway to China, which is Australia’s most valuable and largest inbound tourism market,’’ he said in a statement.  “Through our Hong Kong services and world-class alliance partners, we’re able to capitalize on this growth, which has positive flow-on effects to our domestic network and the Australian economy.

“Guests can now travel beyond Hong Kong to 17 destinations within China with Hong Kong Airlines and Hainan Airlines or to London via our codeshare partnership with Virgin Atlantic Airways.

“Virgin Australia is proud to bring more competition, value and choice to Australians with our new Sydney to Hong Kong daily service.”

Sydney Airport chief executive Geoff Culbert described the new Virgin service as “a fantastic example of Sydney’s growing links with Greater China”.

“Last year we saw Hong Kong visitors increase by 17 percent,’’ he said. “This additional service is also great news for all the Aussies who love to travel, making the whole Asian region more accessible.”

Australian Transport Minister Michael McCormack welcomed the new service as providing more choice for leisure and business travelers.

The move to set up a foothold in the burgeoning Chinese market comes as Borghetti is queued for departure from Virgin.

The airline’s  board is on the hunt for a replacement after he announced he would not renew his contract past January 1, 2020.