Mar 21, 2017

Virgin Australia will fly Melbourne-Hong Kong five times weekly

The Australia-greater China market is even more interesting now that Virgin has played its Hong Kong card

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

The Virgin Australia long haul business class suite

Virgin Australia will make a very substantive bid for ‘greater China’ traffic with its finally announced five times weekly Melbourne-Hong Kong flights using its own A330-200s.

These jets have what many including this reporter think is the best long haul business class suite on any routes out of this country.

Yes, that’s a big call, but there are some unresolved questions about Virgin’s longer term plans and for that matter, the realistic prospects for China-Australia flights if we annoy those who remind us of the fiction that Hong Kong is a truly sovereign entity independent from Beijing.

The flights start on July 5 and in using the proposed alliance with HNA Aviation and Hong Kong Airlines will enable passengers to connect through Hong Kong to 13 destinations in mainland China. It will also allow those flying Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines to connect onto Virgin Australia’s domestic and trans-Tasman network.

Australia announced an open skies agreement with China with almost no fanfare late last year, and like the Qantas group, Virgin Australia hasn’t exactly gone into full festive mode at the medium to longer term implications of that.

Instead it has focused on alliance building, and with the HNA group an equity partner in Virgin Australia Holding, sees opportunities to unlock the ‘new gold mountain’ to our north, to turn a Chinese phrase on its head, without actually hocking itself down to its socks.

There will no doubt be much more to come in relation to Virgin Australia’s China plans, and it is difficult to imagine that they don’t involve non-stops between PRC cities and other Virgin gateways in this country.

Consumers in China like non-stop flights much more than they like time and money consuming connections in China, or its Special Administrative Region in Hong Kong. Just like people in Melbourne detest making connection to fly to anywhere overseas from Sydney’s delightfully intelligently designed split purpose travel black spot.

Virgin Australia has avoided that Sydney problem with this significant move. However it will, one way or another, need to invest in, or ally itself with, much more non-stop capacity between here and China.

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11 thoughts on “Virgin Australia will fly Melbourne-Hong Kong five times weekly

  1. comet

    But I don’t believe you can use Virgin’s Hong Kong service to connect onwards to Europe.

    That would be handy for those who prefer to travel via Asia rather than the Middle East. But I presume it would upset Virgin’s other partner, Etihad.

    1. Deano DD

      Do the flights time in at all with Virgin Atlantic times ?

      Interesting that they chose Melbourne, being the furthest mainland port from Hong Kong
      Feeder traffic from Tazzie and maybe Canberra only
      And only 5 days per week
      I guess the transcontinental A330 service will be largely unaffected
      Certainly a timid first step, particularly with no weekend service, where demand for A330 would be at it’s lowest, but there you go……

      1. ghostwhowalksnz

        Its because they have reduced trans-continental flights they have the spare capacity on their A330’s
        Ben, how can you call Virgins A330 business class as being the best long haul.
        “best long haul business class suite on any routes out of this country”
        A simple check shows Virgins 777’s have a similar layout 1-2-1 across , but on a much wider plane. Seat guru says the A330 widths are 19.5 in , while 777 seat widths are 23 in
        Even Air NZ 789s are only 3 across on a wider plane than the A330, and the seat width ? 22 in.
        You make a big deal on the lack of seat width for passengers, but heres a case of a lesser width some how praised

  2. Ken Borough


    Maps can be deceptive! I seem to recall that Melbourne is closer to HK than Sydney. I could be wrong so will check later.

    1. Deano DD

      HK – SYD 9h 5m
      HK – MEL 9h 10m
      According to google maps
      Delays and winds will alter these times, but I’d reckon there would be more delays at SYD

      That said, Brisbane would be the best for VA loyal customers as no many peeps want to go backwards to go forwards
      8h 40m to BNE
      That said I reckon VA are likely flying PER – MEL – HKA – MEL – PER

      1. Deano DD

        which probably tells you why there are no weekend flights

    2. Jacob HSR

      You can muck around on the GC Mapper website for free.

      MEL to HKG = 7387 km
      SYD to HKG = 7372 km

  3. Jacob HSR

    Does not VA already fly from MEL to HKG?

    flightaware .com says VA 87 will take off tomorrow for HKG. And so does Google if I type in “VA 87 flight”.

  4. Ken Borough

    Sorry DeanoDD. My bad. While I can’t comment on track distances, Sydney is 9NM closer to HK than Melbourne via the GC. (4581NM versus 4590NM). That said, scheduled times are not indicative of distance due to a number of factors, one being the often frequent necessity to ‘doctor’ a block time on account of slot availability. That is why you sometimes see differing scheduled times over the same sector with the same aircraft type but on different days.

  5. Creeper

    I’ll be watching this one with interest, Qantas this afternoon launched a Hong Kong 1 Day sale $599 return.

    Virgin doesn’t have the cash to be playing who can sell the lowest airfare.

  6. Ben Sandilands

    True. The version in their 777 is notably more generous than in their A330. However my concern with seat widths is in economy, where the risk of bone pain in both the hips and knees is real in seats that are at least five cms narrower in many cases than in the business class product zone, where the seat can be rendered horizontal and some formats have in effect what is unlimited shoulder or chest width.

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