Cathay Pacific has promised to be price-competitive on the Melbourne-Hong Kong route as Virgin Australia counts down to the July 5 launch of flights between the two cities.
However, the Hong Kong-based airline has indicated it will stop short of a price war which substantially drives down prices and profit margins.
"We'll compete hard on price, but this doesn’t mean we’ll lead pricing down," says Richard Jones, Cathay Pacific's Sales & Marketing Manager for Australia.
"It’s our job to ensure the market sees we are worth the little extra they might pay."
According to statistics from the Federal Government, the Melbourne-Hong Kong route carried an average of 59,000 travellers per month over the last quarter of 2016.
Writing in Cathay Pacific staff magazine The Journey, Jones allows that while Virgin Australia's Airbus A330 "business class is good, but its schedule isn’t ideal."
"We have a superior schedule, and consistency of product across the Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon networks. We fly in the morning, afternoon and evening from Melbourne – flexibility that is attractive to the higher yield corporates."
In the newly competitive market "We need to play to our strengths: frequency, service and superior product," Jones emphasises.
One of those flights – CX104/105 – already runs on Cathay's Airbus A350, with the second daily CX 134/135 shifting to the advanced A350 (which includes inflight Internet as well as a premium economy cabin) – from 29 October 2017, while CX178/163 remains on the larger Boeing 777-300ER.