Fly 'The Business' on Virgin Australia
Virgin Australia has unveiled its new International Business Class cabin, with the first of its refitted Boeing 777-300ER aircraft now flying across the Pacific.
Virgin Australia has confirmed Melbourne will be its Australian destination for a new service to Hong Kong starting mid-year.
The airline flagged its first venture into the Chinese market in mid-2016 and confirmed in February it would launch a Hong Kong service but until now has not said if it would fly from Sydney or Melbourne.
Virgin said on Tuesday it would fly Airbus A330-200s five times return every week starting on July 5. The announcement follows the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission granting interim approval for Virgin's tie-up with Chinese carriers HNA, Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express.
The alliance means passengers will be able to connect from Hong Kong to 13 destinations in mainland China. Those flying from Hong Kong on Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines will connect to Virgin's domestic and trans-Tasman network under the alliance.
Qantas and its alliance partner Cathay Pacific are currently the only airlines that fly direct between Australia and Hong Kong.
"Virgin Australia's entry into Hong Kong and Greater China is a key pillar of our international strategy, allowing us to tap into Australia's fastest growing and most valuable inbound travel market," Virgin chief executive John Borghetti said.
"Melbourne is an international city in its own right and hosts some of Australia's biggest and most spectacular events. We look forward to showcasing this great city to inbound visitors from Hong Kong and beyond."
China is shaping up as a key market for Australian carriers, with about 1.2 million Chinese tourists visiting Australia last year. Virgin has previously said it hopes to soon fly to a mainland Chinese city, while Qantas last month resumed flights between Sydney and Beijing, more than seven years after it axed the route.
Tickets for Virgin's new service will go on sale on Tuesday.
Melbourne to Hong Kong:
Flight VA89 will depart Melbourne at 12.35am on every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and arrive in Hong Kong at 8.15am the same day, local time.
Flight VA87 will depart Melbourne at 10.25am every Monday and arrive in Hong Kong at 6.05pm and depart at 9.40am on Wednesdays, arriving at 5.20pm.
Hong Kong to Melbourne:
Flight VA86 will depart Hong Kong at 7.50pm every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, arriving in Melbourne at 7.20am the next day.