Virgin Australia plans late March kick-off for Hong Kong

By David Flynn, February 24 2017
Virgin Australia plans late March kick-off for Hong Kong

Virgin Australia is powering towards the launch of flights to Hong Kong, with tickets expected to go on sale by the end of next month.

This will of course be preceded by the announcement of which Australian city will anchor the flights – will they be Sydney-Hong Kong, Melbourne-Hong Kong or Brisbane-Hong Kong?

Melbourne is said to be on the starting grid for the Airbus A330 flights, which will dovetail into connections from Hong Kong to mainland China on Hong Kong Airlines, which is part-owned by Virgin stakeholder and Chinese aviation colossus HNA Group.

A spokesperson for Virgin Australia confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that pending interim approval by the ACCC, the airline planned to begin promoting the route from late March.

The Hong Kong service will be followed by direct flights to a major city in mainland China, again from an as-yet-unknown Australian port.

While Beijing was previously earmarked for that service, Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti last week told Australian Business Traveller that other cities were also under consideration.

"It's complex... slots at Beijing and Shanghai are not easy to get, so it's a balancing act between where you want to fly and where you can get slots."

"Fortunately we can get a feed from HNA from almost any city," he added, indicating that Virgin is looking further afield than the two most obvious candidates.

"It's a work in progress, (and) just like with Hong Kong we won't announce anything until it's secured."

Qantas and Cathay Pacific all offer daily flights to Hong Kong from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with Cathay rolling out its latest Airbus A350 to Melbourne and Brisbane.

Regardless of which city plays host to Virgin's Hong Kong flights, expect to see keen discounting on all fares – not just economy – and potentially the lure of bonus frequent flyer points or status credits as airlines fight for their share of a market that's set to become a lot more competitive.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 42

The obvious choice for a HNA tie in would mean connecting to Changsha with the USA connections to LAX or to Xi'an with European connections to FCO, CDG. Either on the alternate days to what Hainan Air flies to Sydney or Melbourne. Otherwise it could be used from Brisbane to these cities. Their network is extensive enough for connections Chinese cities but Virgin Australia would most likely look at a city where through routes to Europe or North America are possible. Beijing is obviously the main hub for Hainan for those sorts of flights, maybe the opening of Beijing Daxing Airport might create more slots in a couple of years.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 42

Third option would be to Chongqing, which currently has HNA flights to Rome and to LAX later this month.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

27 Feb 2017

Total posts 3

It's unlikely but I would love to see some codeshare agreements with Virgin Atlantic so people can do Australia-London via HKG or PVG. (Even LAX)

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1259

I don't see that being the obvious choice. Virgin already provides their own metal services to LAX and provides connections to Europe through Abu Dhabi & Singapore. The focus on HKG will be O & D, North Asian and Chinese connections.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 Mar 2016

Total posts 42

Any second tier city in China would have great connections to other Chinese cities but these would not be as attractive to Australian flyers in general, who would prefer flying into China via the crowded Beijing and Shanghai airports. Thus a city with onward international connections would be preferable. A flight package from Australia to Paris or Rome would be easier to market than one to Lanzhou or Haikou. That is why Hong Kong was chosen over the neighbouring HNA focus city of Shenzhen, it offers better onwards connections that VA can market, whether it be to Europe or North America.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1259

Hmmmm, but doesn't that contradict your point of flying into Changsa?


I'd suggest HKG was chosen because it:

- has proven demand as a destination itself
- offers connections through North Asia
- allows HNA to access markets in Australia (Mel, Syd etc) which it cannot operate to itself

Whilst there may be the ability to offer connections to Europe, there is no indication from Virgin that this has anything to do with flying to Hong Kong

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 531

Hong Kong is going to be a great route, hopefully Shanghai will get the ok as well.

JBL
JBL

01 Jun 2016

Total posts 60

Was on a transcontinental A330 flight recently and heard the stewardesses talking about the first route being MEL-HKG


Hong Kong and Beijing are definitely the most logical options, being the hubs for Hong Kong Airlines and Hainan Airlines respectively, providing a huge number of connections in China/Northern Asia

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 109

A domestic stewardess would not know that... not even and international one...

Tui
Tui

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 3

But you don't know who she socialises with or is married to in the company.. as if I don't have friends who also have friends in high places at my work.. C'mon mate - don't be so negative.. her sister might do yoga with the CEO's wife for all we know..

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2430

As a rule I take 'galley gossip' with a pinch of salt. There's never any shortage of rumours in this industry, and of course while some of them do pan out, it's a bit like the stopped clock which is still right twice a day – in other words, if you get enough rumours buzzing around then one of them's bound to be right but more by accident than anything else.


(FWIW, we've also learned that vast numbers of airline staff and crew read AusBT and so a crewie noting the first route as MEL-HKG could easily have picked it from what we've tipped in previous articles which they have read, rather than any definitive inside source, resulting in a bit of a self-referencing 'echo chamber'.)

Tui
Tui

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 3

But you guys ought not be so dismissive of other people's' contributions.. they obviously felt that what they had to share might be of value..  peace and love to you.. my fellow human..

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2430

We're not in the least "dismissive of other people's contributions". We appreciate those contributions and the spirit in which they are offered. We are simply adding an element of context and balance to this so that other readers can take that into account when considering the 'rumour', because not all rumours can or should be accepted at face value. 

JBL
JBL

01 Jun 2016

Total posts 60

I understand the disbelief, however they were discussing whether they wanted to be rostered onto international flights or remain domestic, which makes sense considering the A330 will be the aircraft flying the route

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 531

Onward flights to China will be a good option via HKG on VA. Not sure a 2 stop flight to Europe will be that popular... Why fly via HKG and another destination in China when you can still fly SQ which is one stop or Etihad. Then there's BA, QF, EK, QR

16 Dec 2011

Total posts 45

Will there be Code-share with Virgin Atlantic to London ?  

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 531

And then London to New York?


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Jun 2016

Total posts 9

I think the most logical city would be Xi'an. Xi'an is considered a secondary hub for HU and operates many domestic as well as a few international flights. Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou would also be some good options.

S
S

13 Sep 2013

Total posts 115

I think Xian was probably the worst city I've ever been to in the world

26 Feb 2014

Total posts 20

What have you got against Xian?..its a historic city and a rising industrial city ....you must have arrived on a bad day..

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 130

Just out of interest aren't china southern supposed to be starting shenzhen-brisbane soon?

Tui
Tui

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 3

I think Xi'an would be a really marketable and uncluttered route. Terracotta Warriors, connections to Europe ( we don't know what will become of the Etihad relationship post James Hogan) and high speed rail connections.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1390

Presumably the Hong Kong Airlines lounge would be used, which seems to be next to CXs The Cabin.


Photos show it's an OK lounge.

The other choice may have been Virgin Atlantic's very nice Clubhouse but they shut it a few weeks ago

06 Mar 2017

Total posts 11

Interesting discussion. Over 2 years ago I wrote a piece for The Oz predicting that looking ahead [5-10 years] we might see more J pax choosing to fly Oz-Europe or North America

 over China, specifically CAN, PVG or PEK, on CZ, MU or CA.

 Clearly this would follow the maturing of their J class product [ still a work in progress] and better connectivity over the respective hubs. In the case of HKG, already well served, CX is excellent especially for a stopover and I could see an equally attractive proposition if VA and VS link up with a good J class offer...same brand is good for marketing even if they're two different airlines. I think the honeymoon with EK [and DXB] is nearly over for many reasons,and the Chinese cities will eventually provide very good stopover potential.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Virgin Australia plans late March kick-off for Hong Kong