Sydney-to-Hong Kong flights: Virgin Australia's new international route takes off

Virgin Australia has launched its newest international route with its first Sydney-to-Hong Kong flight  taking off on Monday morning.

The new daily flight service will provide competition to the dominant players on the route, Qantas and Cathay Pacific. 

The inaugural VA83  took off about10am flying over the east coast of Australia, Papua New Guinea and the northern tip of the Philippines. The approximately 9.5-hour flight is expected to arrive at Hong Kong International Airport around 5.40pm local time.

Virgin is flying its Airbus A330-200 on the route, which offers 20 seats in business class in a 1-2-1 configuration and 255 seats in economy in a 2-4-2 configuration.

Virgin's A330 features its award-winning business class cabin "The Business", a reverse herringbone cabin layout which gives direct aisle access, with triple-layer seat cushions, a hammock frame and a 16-inch HD touch screen. Virgin's "The Business" has been named the best business class cabin for 2018 and 2017 by airlineratings.com.

The on-board menu designed by Virgin's resident chef, Luke Mangan, offers strong Asian influences. The business class menu includes beef wonton soup with Sichuan pepper and bok choy, barbecue pork buns and sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaf. All passengers on the inaugural flight will be served a Hong Kong inspired ice-cream flavour – mango pancake, by Australian ice-creamery Gundowring.

The new route is Virgin's second to Hong Kong and further expands the airline's international routes into Asia, specifically Greater China.

Last year, the airline launched non-stop flights to Hong Kong from Melbourne, which now flies five days a week, down from seven flights a week, and also uses A330-200s on the route.

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The commencement of the Melbourne-Hong Kong route saw a price war break out, with Qantas and Cathay heavily discounting fares in response to Virgin's entry to the market. Virgin says the competition saw prices drop 30 per cent.

The new Sydney route is likely to see similar discount fares. 

The launch of the new route will also serve as another gateway for tourism to and from China, with Virgin offering connections to 17 destinations within China through partner airlines Hong Kong Airlines and Hainan Airlines. Passengers can also connect from Hong Kong to London with Virgin Atlantic.

According to tourism figures, 1.4 million passengers have travelled between China and Australia over the past year, with a 5.4 per cent increase in travellers between Hong Kong and Australia. Between January and March this year, passenger traffic was up 2 per cent on last year. The figures represent steady growth in tourism between Australia and Greater China, with more than 60 per cent of travellers from Australia to Hong Kong being repeat travellers.

Last month Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti announced he would step down in 2020

The writer travelled to Hong Kong flight as a guest of Virgin Australia.

See also: World's best airline for 2017 named as Qantas hits lowest ranking

See also: Where to shop, and what to buy, in Hong Kong

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