Virgin Australia is starting flights to Hong Kong

Hong Kong. Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

Virgin Australia is about to start flying to Hong Kong.

The airline today announced an alliance with HNA Aviation (which owns 20% of Virgin Australia), Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express to code share to Hong Kong and on to China.

As part of the first stage of the alliance, Virgin Australia plans to introduce flights between Australia and Hong Kong by mid 2016, subject to regulatory approval.

The services to Hong Kong will use Airbus A330 aircraft.

“This new alliance will be a game changer for travel between Australia and China, providing significantly more competition and choice for travellers,” says Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti.

“We are excited about introducing direct Virgin Australia flights — and our famous customer service — to Hong Kong, together with access to destinations across China.

“The alliance will accelerate and support our access to the Chinese market, which is Australia’s fastest growing and most valuable inbound travel market.”

In-bound tourism from China is now the biggest and faster growing sector in the Australian market. Short-term visitors from China, including arrivals from Hong Kong, swelled to 1.4566 million in 2016, the highest number on record.

Virgin Australia is seeking ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) permission for the alliance.

Direct flights between Australia and mainland China are also planned, but no details have been released.

Hong Kong was long regarded as a key stopover point for Qantas on the “kangaroo route” to London, but in recent years CEO Alan Joyce has refocused his airline’s attention towards the Middle East and an alliance with Emirates in Dubai.

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