Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic are expanding their codeshare agreement to include flights between Sydney and London Heathrow, flying via Hong Kong.
The agreement is set to come into effect on July 2, when Virgin Australia launches its upcoming Sydney-Hong Kong route, though tickets between the UK and Australia via Hong Kong are already available to book.
Overall, the expanded codeshare agreement will see the addition of Virgin Australia’s daily Sydney-Hong Kong route, along with select domestic Australian flights, notably Adelaide to Sydney and Melbourne, and Canberra to Melbourne.
The two carriers already codeshare on Virgin Australia’s five-times-weekly Melbourne-Hong Kong service that launched last year. However, Virgin Autralia’s current daily schedule on its Melbourne-Hong Kong route is set to change this summer to a five-times-weekly service with significantly different flight times, with the Sydney-Hong Kong route effectively “taking over” the daily time slots. The effect of this will be that connecting through Hong Kong when flying between Melbourne and London will get significantly less feasible.
Once the Sydney-Hong Kong route takes off, flying from Melbourne to London via Virgin Australia’s Melbourne-Hong Kong service will require a gruelling 11-hour stopover, while the return flight will require a tight one- or two-hour stopover, depending on the day flown.
Meanwhile, going from Sydney to London will include a more manageable six-hour layover in Hong Kong, and a three-hour transit on the return journey. As such, travellers flying from Melbourne to London may find it more efficient to do a two-stop journey via both Sydney and Hong Kong rather than a one-stop routing via just Hong Kong.
The two carriers also codeshare on flights between London and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane by going via Los Angeles.
Below are the schedules for both of Virgin Australia’s Hong Kong routes as of mid-2018.
|VA89||Sydney (SYD)||Hong Kong (HKG)||1000||1740||Daily|
|VA88||Hong Kong (HKG)||Sydney (SYD)||1950||0710+1|
|VA85||Melbourne (MEL)||Hong Kong (HKG)||0030||0810||Mon, Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun|
|VA84||Hong Kong (HKG)||Melbourne (MEL)||1810||0540+1||Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun|
The Airbus A330-200 will fly both of these routes, an aircraft that notably features 20 of Virgin Australia’s “The Business” seats in the business class cabin. These seats are able to recline to a fully flat 80-inch (203cm) bed, and are laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration offering direct aisle access to all passengers.
Business Traveller recently reviewed this seat on the Melbourne-Hong Kong route.[embed]https://www.businesstraveller.com/tried-and-tested/flight-review-virgin-australia-a330-200-business-class/[/embed]
Virgin Atlantic, meanwhile, currently flies between London Heathrow and Hong Kong once a day with its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, departing London at 2155 and arriving in Hong Kong the following day at 1655. Return flights take off from Hong Kong at 2355 and arrive back in London at 0530 the following morning.
|VS206||London (LHR)||Hong Kong (HKG)||2155||1655+1||Daily|
|VS207||Hong Kong (HKG)||London (LHR)||2355||0530+1|
The new Australia-UK routing comes on the heels of Qantas’s new 17-hour, non-stop flights between Perth and London Heathrow, which launched at the end of March.
Business Traveller recently reviewed Qantas’s business class offering on its new route, which is flown by its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft.