Virgin Atlantic says it won’t be returning to Hong Kong, despite the Chinese territory recently abandoning mandatory quarantine for all visitors.
“After careful consideration we’ve taken the difficult decision to suspend our London Heathrow – Hong Kong services and close our Hong Kong office, after almost 30 years of proudly serving this Asian hub city,” an airline spokesperson said in a statement.
The airline added “ongoing Russian airspace closure” contributed to the decision, as this would add between 1-2 hours to the Hong Kong flights, and said “anyone booked to travel from March 2023, will be offered a refund, voucher or the option to rebook on an alternative Virgin Atlantic route.”
In more optimistic times Virgin Atlantic – which will join the SkyTeam alliance in early 2023 – planned to restart its once-popular daily London-Hong Kong service in September 2021 on the flagship Airbus A350-1000, but the Asian financial hub remained under tight lockdown, forcing Virgin to push back to March 2023 “due to ongoing operational complexities” on the route.
At the time, a spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic told Executive Traveller “we look forward to returning to this important Asian hub, providing vital connectivity between the UK and Hong Kong for customers and global supply chains.”
The decision will leave British Airways and Cathay Pacific as the sole airlines offering non-stop flights between London and Hong Kong, with BA currently showing a restart of its daily BA31/BA32 service in December.
Virgin says it will use the aircraft previously earmarked for Hong Kong “to increase frequencies in other key markets from the Summer 2023 schedule.”