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Virgin Australia plans to fly to Hong Kong and Beijing next year as part of its new alliance with HNA Aviation Group, provided it gets the green light from Australian and overseas regulators.
Under an application filed to the International Air Services Commission, Virgin would launch daily flights to both destinations by June 1 2017 using its 275-seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft, complete with its latest ‘The Business’ seats at the pointy end.
The application declines to name which Australian city, or cities, these flights would originate from, only that they would be from a “major gateway airport” in Australia.
Currently, Virgin Australia’s Airbus A330s ply the popular east-west routes between Perth and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, while occasionally appearing on flights to Nadi, Fiji in peak holiday periods.
Virgin Australia previously codeshared on sister airline Virgin Atlantic's flights between Sydney and Hong Kong, but which were axed in 2014.
Reporting by Chris Chamberlin
PREVIOUS | Virgin Australia aims to begin direct flights to Hong Kong and Beijing under a new alliance with HNA Aviation Group, part-owner of Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines.
The partnership will see HNA, which ranks as the largest private operator of airlines in China, buy 13% of the Qantas challenger for A$159 million, with an eye to raise that stake to almost 20%.
HNA will join Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways and Richard Branson's Virgin Group in the Virgin Australia boardroom as Air New Zealand seeks to sell part or all of its 26% holding.
Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti describes the “strategic commercial alliance” as boosting the airline’s access to the rapidly-growing Chinese travel market, “which represents Australia’s fastest growing and most valuable inbound travel market.”
Virgin and HNA will “look to introduce direct flights between Australia and China and co-operate on commercial functions including code-sharing, frequent flyer programs, lounge access and promotion of tourism and business travel.”
The strategic alliance will be subject to ACCC authorisation and regulatory approvals from Chinese authorities.
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