Virgin Australia will bring back daily flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong from October 28 2018, with the added appeal of an 11am departure from Melbourne replacing the current 12.30am (yes, that's half-after-midnight) wheels-up.
The new roster sees flight VA69 outbound from Melbourne at 11am every day, up from the current five days a week, to reach Hong Kong at 5.40pm.
The revised VA68 return leg will leave Hong Kong at 7.50pm for an 8.30am arrival into Melbourne the following day.
Virgin's return to a daily Melbourne-Hong Kong service with a late morning departure will sharpen its appeal to business travellers and bring the airline back into the competitive frame against Qantas and Cathay Pacific, although the later still holds the advantage of three daily flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong.
Today also marks the beginning of daily Virgin Australia flights from Sydney to Hong Kong as the challenger continues its push into Asia.
However, that daily rhythm from Sydney and Melbourne to Hong Kong also means that two of the airline's six Airbus A330s will now be removed from the domestic east-west route, which will likely see more travellers making the 4-6 hour transcontinental trek on the less comfortable Boeing 737.
Virgin is planning a new Boeing 737 business class – potentially limited to a smaller number of jets dedicated to the east-west or 'Coast to Coast' corridor – which CEO John Borghetti has previously described as a “quantum leap in domestic business class.”
Flights from Brisbane to Hong Kong, or from an Australian capital city to a mainland Chinese destination, are expected to be next on the to-do list for Borghetti, who plans to step down from the role within the next 18 months.