Virgin Australia will launch its Hong Kong service from Melbourne in July

Hong Kong from the Kowloon side. Photo: Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)

Virgin Australia will launch direct flights to Hong Kong in early July, taking off first from Melbourne.

Last month the airline announced an alliance deal with three Chinese airlines to create a codeshare network into China, as well as launching new direct services to Hong Kong and mainland China.

Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti called it a game-changer, offering competition and choice for travellers.

“Virgin Australia’s entry into Hong Kong and Greater China is a key pillar of our international strategy, allowing us to tap into Australia’s fastest growing and most valuable inbound travel market,” he said.

Flights from Melbourne to Hong Kong will start on July 5, subject to regulatory approvals. Virgin Australia will operate five return services per week on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, ex Melbourne. Bookings can be made from tomorrow, March 22. Singapore Airlines currently provides the airline’s codeshare flights and that alliance will continue.

China is also a lucrative market for Victoria with both the top international visitor numbers and overall expenditure, with almost 570,000 visitors spending more than $2.4 billion in 2016. Melbourne Airport international passengers rose 9.5% in 2016 on the previous year to 9.2 million.

The airline is flying the Airbus A330 aircraft, featuring its business class, “The Business” to Hong Kong, taking advantage of an increased focus on the Middle East by rival Qantas.

Cathay Pacific launched its A350 on the route in early February and is planning a second A350 from Melbourne in late October.

The Hong Kong-based airline also plans to introduce an A350 service out of Brisbane at the end of March and from Perth in late October.

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