[Update: Hong Kong Airlines has since confirmed it will begin flying to San Francisco and New York in 2018]
Hong Kong Airlines has its sights set on opening new routes to London, New York and San Francisco next year, now that the first of its new A350 aircraft has joined its fleet.
Overall, the Hong Kong carrier expects to have 21 A350s in its fleet and Hong Kong Airlines says it aims to capitalise on the plane’s long-range capability to forge new routes to North America and Europe.
This process has already begun with its first A350, which it took delivery of late last week and which is set to take off on Sunday, September 10, to Bangkok. The aircraft will then fly on routes to Taipei and Shanghai before making its long-haul debut on the airline’s upcoming service to Los Angeles in December.
Additional European and American destinations are expected to be added next year alongside London, New York and San Francisco, though no specific timeline has yet been specified for the routes.
The move is likely to put pressure on rival Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific, which last week announced it would begin flying its own A350 on new routes to Brussels, Dublin and Copenhagen next year and which has been struggling financially.
Hong Kong Airlines’ A350 is also the debut aircraft of its new fully flat business class seat product, which Business Traveller was able to sample back in November. Overall, the aircraft is configured with 33 seats in business, 108 in Economy Comfort and 193 in economy class.
“With our business continuing to grow, we have reached a turning point which is steering us towards the goal of becoming a global carrier,” said Zhang Kui, the airline’s co-chairman. “The two monumental milestones we are unveiling today will carry us towards the company’s vision of international expansion. The addition of the new A350 aircraft to our fleet will strengthen the connection between travellers and major international destinations, further enhancing Hong Kong’s position as an international aviation hub.”
Alongside the carrier’s first A350 delivery, Hong Kong Airlines also opened its new Club Autus lounge on the seventh floor of Hong Kong International Airport’s (HKIA) Midfield Concourse. The lounge follows the 2014 opening of its Club Bauhinia lounge and is the result of a HK$35 million (US$4.5 million) investment.
The lounge is divided into six zones: Premier Zone, Business Zone, Leisure Area, Family Zone, Personal Care Zone, and Scenery Zone (which offers views of the under-development Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge). Shower facilities are available in each of the first class VIP rooms. A 3D virtual mobile theatre by Royole Moon featuring movies and video games is also available, which visitors can use while listening with noise-cancelling headphones.
Meanwhile F&B in the lounge is comprised of a 20-metre-long “food line” offering Chinese and Western dishes. Local tea brand Jrink has also created bespoke teas for the lounge.
Admittance is offered to business class passengers, and Gold and Silver members of Fortune Wings Club with a valid Hong Kong Airlines boarding pass (Gold members can also bring in one guest). First class passengers travelling on Hong Kong Airlines’ partner carriers can also enter the lounge.