Virgin Australia has upped its partnership with Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines in a move that will see reciprocal codesharing, miles and status points earning and redemption, as well as other benefits extended to travellers when flying with either airline.  

The partnership builds on Virgin Australia’s existing frequent-flyer tie-up with Hong Kong Airlines that launched last year when Virgin Australia launched its first service to Hong Kong from Melbourne. Hong Kong Airlines is a member of the HNA Group along with Hainan Airlines and a number of other Chinese carriers.

Since then, Virgin Australia has been keen to expand its presence in the region with a new Sydney-Hong Kong route set to take off next month. However, launching non-stop flights to mainland China has been difficult for the airline.

This collaboration with Hainan Airlines is therefore a logical step in the right direction for Virgin Australia. It also notably comes after the recent announcement by Hong Kong Airlines that it would be axing its flights to Gold Coast and Cairns as part of its “changing business strategy in the Australian market”.

Under the agreement, Virgin Australia will place its code on Hainan Airlines’ flights between Sydney and Xi’an, Changsha and Haikou, as well as those between Melbourne and Xi’an and Changsha, and between Shenzhen and Brisbane and Cairns.

Meanwhile, Hainan Airlines will place its code on a number of Virgin Australia domestic and trans-Tasman flights, notably Cairns, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and Auckland.

This will enable travellers to book flights and connections on the above codeshare routes under a single booking, including through check-in.

For members of the two airlines’ loyalty programmes – Velocity Frequent Flyer and Fortune Wings Club – it means the ability to earn miles as well as status points when travelling on codeshare flights operated by either carrier.

Elite members will also be able to get priority check-in and boarding, extra baggage allowance and access to Virgin Australia, Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines lounges.

“Virgin Australia is excited to partner with Hainan Airlines to extend our services into mainland China, and to build upon the success of our Hong Kong services,” said Rob Sharp, Virgin Australia Airlines Group executive.  

“As the fourth largest and biggest independent airline in the country, we are confident that Hainan Airlines is the best partner for us to expand into Greater China with.” 

Tickets will go on sale for the codeshare services on June 21, 2018 for travel beginning July 2.