Virgin Australia to launch Sydney-Hong Kong flights mid-2018

By David Flynn, February 28 2018
Virgin Australia to launch Sydney-Hong Kong flights mid-2018

UPDATE | Virgin Australia's daily flights between Sydney and Hong Kong will launch on Monday July 2, 2018, and are now on sale – read our story for full details.

PREVIOUS | Virgin Australia will begin daily flights between Sydney and Hong Kong from the middle of 2018.

The flights will run on the airline's  Airbus A330 jets featuring its highly-regarded The Business business class, and follows the launch of Melbourne-Hong Kong in late 2017, although those flights are being trimmed back to five days a week.

AusBT review: Virgin Australia business class, Melbourne to Hong Kong

The service will also offer onwards connections to Virgin Atlantic Airway’s flights to London, offering a new Virginesque spin on the Kangaroo Route – although there's quite some hours to be spent at Hong Kong airport between the late afternoon arrival of the Virgin Australia flight and the near-midnight departure of the Virgin Atlantic flight.

AusBT review: Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 business class, Hong Kong to London

Here is Virgin Australia's Sydney-Hong Kong schedule, for which the airline says tickets will "go on sale soon":

  • VA89 departs Sydney at 10am, arriving into Hong Kong at 5.40pm
  • VA88 departs Hong Kong at 7.50pm, arriving into Sydney at 7.10am the next day

This timetable put the challenger smack against the mid-morning Sydney departures of incumbents Qantas and   Cathay Pacific, both of which are sure to unleash a sharply competitive response to Virgin's arrival on what has to date been almost a monopoly route for the Oneworld airlines.

“The new Sydney-Hong Kong service will link two global destinations and will allow Virgin Australia to further access the fastest growing and most valuable Australian inbound market, China, with our alliance partner Hong Kong Airlines" says Virgin Australia Group CEO, John Borghetti.

Meanwhile, a revised timetable for Melbourne-Hong Kong shows flights being dropped from Wednesdays and Fridays – a move which Borghetti says is related to availability of slots at the busy Hong Kong airport.

"It's purely a slot issue," he said, adding that ticket sales on the service were strong and the route "was performing very well... it's being very strongly supported at both ends."


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.

So this must mean the final nail in coffin for A330 transcons.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

02 Feb 2015

Total posts 38

Bugger - I love the 330's going to perth each week.

18 Jan 2017

Total posts 53

Not really, this will take up one airframe. Considering that there is one airframe currently out of service for maintenance the current schedules roughly reflect what to expect once the service goes live. Of course, you also have 2 days now where an a330 will be "free'ed up" by the reduced frequency from Melbourne

VA should now had code share agreements with VS to have flights to London as arrival and departure times all link together

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1252

Albeit with a long layover.

Wow, competition getting really serious now, Virgin isn't mucking about! I hope the market can sustain this added service because with 4 x CX flights and 2 x QF flights, and that including three Cathay Boeing 777-300ERs and a Qantas A380 which is rumoured to become a full-time service, that's a lot of seats!

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 372

Good to see. A strong Virgin is good for everyone. Good to see the same departure and arrival times as well. The Melb service was a bit of a basket case when it was announced.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1189

They seem to have picked up some good slots. I don't know if these are a new allocation or have been transferred from Hong Kong Airlines.

28 Feb 2018

Total posts 14

I believe these are the old Mel slots. The new slots recently approved were outside Syd curfew so these went to Mel and vice versa. HK Airlines only has OOL slots under an agreement that HK carriers have a max capacity to some Aus cities. I. E Cathays has utilised these slots in most key cities.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 173

What I don't get is why Hong Kong Airlines flies into the Gold Coast rather than say Sydney or Melbourne. I flew in this morning, business class was no more than 1/4 full; economy even less!

Surely the Gold Coast market simply doesn't support the traffic, and combining with Virgin to add some frequency to either Sydney or Melbourne makes more sense?

07 Aug 2012

Total posts 196

Cathay used up all the allocated capacity for HK carriers to Australia.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1250

@andyf - Hong Kong based carriers have used up all the capacity available to them at Australia's main 4 markets. So they are unable to fly to Syd or Melb

28 Feb 2018

Total posts 14

There is a HK agreement that there is a max capacity of seats they can sell to certain cities. Cathay takes up available seats to Bris, Syd and Mel so they can't fly here

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 232

Great news, hope Virgin does well against the monopoly with QF/CX in partnership.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1250

CX and QF 'partnership' is hardly strong, if even existent. No codesharing, price setting or coordination. The route has been a duopoly for some time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 314

QF and CX have been frenemies since the birth of the Oneworld Alliance. They've been hostile enemies before that since the 90s. Even if they were to break the ice and suddenly apply for a JV, regulators on both ends will not likely to approve it.

The most "co-operation" you'll get out of QF and CX is 'bagging interlining' since they are in the same alliance.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

01 Mar 2012

Total posts 177

It appears A330 lease agreements are to be announced sometime in the future.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Nov 2011

Total posts 135

That's a great departure time for the flight up to HK. Will lounge access be the Etihad lounge?

31 Aug 2017

Total posts 5

Don't know why they don't launch a BNE to HKG, we're crying out for some more capacity to HKG. The two daily Cathay flights are always full.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1189

I'm sure they'd love to but suitable slots are fairly hard to come by. They have to wait until HKIA release new slots which given the clogged runways during peak times are pretty scarce.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Aug 2017

Total posts 119

If they wanted to Lift capacity the first thing they could do is upguage to 77W like they have to Syd/Mel.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 232

Think HK airport is heavily slot limited, new entrants need to creep as new slots open and will take a while to fill new routes daily.

20 Oct 2011

Total posts 77

but MEL-HKG taking a hit. Back to 5 per week with less appealing timeslots.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 109

Just another reason to build a proper VA lounge for international customers...

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1189

It would make more sense to co-brand a lounge with EY in both MEL and SYD. The excellent but expensive for the airline EY lounges are under-utilised given EY have only a couple of flights each day. Likewise, it doesn't make sense for VA to operate a dedicated lounge for only a few flights.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2015

Total posts 53

Possibly similar to what VA do @ LAX? Whilst not visibly co-branded as such, it was interesting to note the EK lounge @ LAX was staffed by VA uniformed representatives when I was there 2 weeks ago prior to departing on VA7. Obviously no EK flights at that time but I did think that was a smart use of the space that would otherwise be closed

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 439

VA staff also man the desk of the EY MEL lounge for the morning HKG departure. Its weird seeing a VA uniform in there. Its also weird that they say 'we don't announce the flight boarding but will come around and tell you individually'. Are they not allowed to use the microphone? Why?


01 Jun 2016

Total posts 60

Cobranding is potentially on the books due to EY's poor economic performance. VA staff pretty much already run the lounge before any of their own flights

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 100

Excellent news . Iam a regular on this route and will most certainly support this competitive move by Virgin. The time slots secured by Virgin are favorable given the limited access in Hong Kong .

I hope nothing but success for Virgin on this popular route.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

29 Jan 2011

Total posts 161

I wonder if VA will be able to sell a code-share flight with VS to LHR via HK?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Jun 2014

Total posts 11

Have any members here heard (or have inside info) about when these flights will be bookable? How long did Melbourne take from the announcement to being available? Fingers crossed for some decent award availability.

28 Feb 2018

Total posts 14

Last year, mel-hkg started flying in July and was on sale late March. Syd-hkg is expected to fly July this year so assuming final applications and approvals are cleared it should be by the end of March

06 Jul 2017

Total posts 19

Best piece of news from Virgin stable for a long time. Opens up the possibility of onward connections into rest of Asia, Europe and US big time.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

08 Feb 2016

Total posts 37

This is fantastic! Would be awesome for a night flight but hey, just happy to have the opportunity to fly virgin to HK

05 Aug 2011

Total posts 16

Nice time slots VA let’s see if VA beat QF on prices...

Let the price war begin...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1381

MEL appears to be overnight in both directions, with substantial downtime in HKG

MEL-HKG VA85 0030/0810 - Mon, Tues, Thu, Sat, Sun

HKG-MEL VA84 1810/0540 (+1) - Tues, Thu, Sat, Sun

HKG-MEL VA84 1915/0645 (+1) - Mon


10 Dec 2015

Total posts 177


The revised MEL-HKG schedule clearly scream connection opportunities @ MEL and more importantly, considering the growth rate of China-origin traffic heading to AU these days, @ HKG with a wide array of sister carrier routes by HNA group.

06 Dec 2017

Total posts 111

about time too.While I do not agree with the scheduling coming home It is pretty good on the way up.What I plan to do for Hong Kong in the future is Adelaide-Sydney-Hong Kong on Virgin Australia but coming home if it is available get on the direct Cathay Pacific nonstop as I am frequent flyers in both Virgin Velocity and Qantas Frequent Flyer.We have not had a third operator direct on that sector since Virgin Atlantic and way before that Ansett Australia for a long time.


23 May 2014

Total posts 123

Great news, well done Virgin. I like Cathay but I'll support this route on Virgin.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Dec 2014

Total posts 1

If They drop the 330-200 to Perth which has the best Business Class I will have to move back to Qantas

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

17 Aug 2017

Total posts 22

Regarding Melbourne flights. Leaving MEL at 0030 and arriving MEL at 0540. I’d say this change is so an A330 can still run domestically in daytime.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

17 Nov 2014

Total posts 103

I am glad that Virgin finally launches SYD-HKG at last. The timing for the flight is excellent as well.

Moreover, if Sydneysiders need to arrive Hong Kong early, they can go via Melbourne which their luggage can check thru - no worries.

Despite that, I have requests that I hope @ChrisCh can communicate to Virgin about:

1. I really hope the new service will start no later than mid-June. There are many Uni students in Sydney who need this service to go back to HK/Asia after the semester ends in June. So to not miss the great opportunity to market across unis and boost patronage.

2. I hope Virgin will start installing WiFi on A332 soon. Allowing WiFi on board will attract business customers to switch from Qantas early.

3. Virgin should investigate installing Premium Economy on A332s to replace Economy X. If Qantas can afford to install PEY on B789 to Perth, so should Virgin Australia. And installing PEY will lure high yield pax to switch airlines.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Dec 2017

Total posts 2

Any news on which lounge VA Gold/Plat members will get in Sydney on these flights?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2556

Not as yet, rest assured that when we have that news we will publish it.

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