Virgin Australia’s recently announced Sydney-Hong Kong route has been given a July 2, 2018 launch date, with flights now available to book.
The new daily route is Virgin Australia’s second to Hong Kong after it launched non-stop flights to the city from Melbourne a year earlier, in July 2017.
The airline is currently advertising return economy class prices from A$549 (US$422) and business class fares from A$2,679 (US$2,060) on its website. At the time of writing, however, return economy class fares departing Sydney on July 2 started at A$752 (US$578) including taxes and fees, while business class fares began at A$3,380 (US$2,599).
“Since Virgin Australia began flying to Hong Kong last year, airfares from Australia have dropped by up to 40 per cent, signalling the strong competition we have brought to this route,” said Rob Sharp, Virgin Australia Airlines group executive.
“Hong Kong is a vibrant and exciting destination but is also a gateway into Asia and Europe. We look forward to offering onward connections with our partners Hong Kong Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Australia is set to fly its Airbus A330-200 aircraft on the route, which comes with 20 “The Business” seats in business class and 255 seats in economy. Business class is laid out 1-2-1, with seats able to recline fully to form an 80-inch (203cm) bed.
Meanwhile economy is laid out 2-4-2 with 31 inches (78.7cm) of pitch between seats and 17.4 inches (44.1cm) of width in each seat. Seats recline 5 inches (12.7cm) and both classes offer in-seat USB and power points for charging.
The new Sydney service will operate daily with the following schedule:
|VA89||Sydney (SYD)||Hong Kong (HKG)||1000||1740||Daily|
|VA88||Hong Kong (HKG)||Sydney (SYD)||1950||0710+1|
However, the airline’s current daily Melbourne-Hong Kong service is set to drop to a five-times-weekly service following the launch of the Sydney-Hong Kong route, a decision based on slot availability.
“Virgin Australia was granted five additional slots from Hong Kong International Airport, taking our total number of slots to 12,” a Virgin Australia spokesperson said responding to a query from Business Traveller.
“The new slots which were awarded to us fell outside the Sydney curfew times, therefore we switched around the Melbourne and Sydney slots. Virgin Australia is seeking to return to daily Melbourne-Hong Kong services as soon as possible, pending slot availability.”
Along with Hong Kong, Virgin Australia also has mainland China on its radar, though so far the airline has not indicated which routes it has its eyes on.
“Greater China is a key pillar of our strategy and the addition of Sydney services to our already popular Melbourne flights to Hong Kong strengthens our proposition immensely,” added group executive Sharp.
Coinciding with the launch of its Melbourne-Hong Kong flights, Virgin Australia also began partnering with members of HNA Aviation as part of a reciprocal loyalty programme agreement. HNA Aviation includes Hong Kong Airlines, budget carrier HK Express and Chinese carriers Hainan Airlines and Tianjin Airlines, among others. Earlier this year, Hainan Airlines and Tianjin Airlines launched non-stop flights to Sydney from Haikou and Zhengzhou, respectively.
An interline agreement with HK Express has also been announced that will allow travellers to connect through Hong Kong to destinations in Asia. Tickets for these services are expected to go on sale later this month.
To mark the upcoming Sydney-Hong Kong flights, Virgin Australia has also launched its “#ChopstickChallenge”, where participants are asked to submit posts of themselves using chopsticks to conduct everyday tasks, with the winner receiving return business class tickets and two nights’ accommodation at The Peninsula Hong Kong hotel.