Hong Kong Airlines's daily all-business class flights between Hong Kong and London's secondary airport Gatwick will start next March.
Australian Business Traveller reported on the airline's mooted plans for the premium-only flights earlier this year, but confirmation of the 8 March 2012 start date, the every-day frequency and choice of Gatwick as the London end of the service are all great news for business travellers.
In many ways, Gatwick is a more convenient airport than Heathrow for business travellers in the financial markets despite its reputation as a leisure and charter airline. It's smaller, with a direct rail link on London's Thameslink line to several stops convenient for the City of London financial district and a decent arrivals lounge at the Sofitel.
Kong Kong Airlines will run three new Airbus A330-200s with just 116 seats -- by way of comparison, Qantas' international versions of the same aircraft pack some 253 seats across both business and economy class.
Despite being an all-business class flight the planes will be divided into two versions of HKA's premium 'Club Class' cabins.
34 Club Premier 'suites' sit at the pointy end of the A330s with fully flat 1.8 metre (6'1") beds in a spacious 1-2-1 staggered layout.
Passengers are treated to a 'fine dining service' with individual table settings, a turndown service with duvets, pyjamas and slippers plus luxury amenity kits, or you can while away the hours watching a few shows on your 15.4" 16:9 HD video screen.
Further back are 82 Club Classic seats in a more conventional 'cradle' or recliner design, with a 1.3 metre (51 inch) seat pitch and 10.4" HD video screen in a still rather roomy 2-2-2 cabin layout.
What's the difference between angled flat seats and fully flat beds? Don't miss our article demystifying the jargon and putting the truth to the lie-flat lie.
“The concept for the all Club Class aircraft will provide passengers with a private jet style ambience and an exceptional crew to guest ratio" said Gerard Clarke, General Manager UK for Hong Kong Airlines of what he terms as the airline's "new flagship route".
The flight from Hong Kong (HX875) will depart at 11.50pm, arriving at London Gatwick Airport the following day at 5.55am. The return service, HX876, will be wheels up from Gatwick at 9.30pm and reach Hong Kong at 6.05pm the next day.
For further information, please visit www.hongkongairlines.com/club.
Sadly, it doesn't look like the airline will be able to offer a connecting all-business service from Australia any time soon.
Recent Government talks between Australia and Hong Kong, aimed at lifting the cap of 70 weekly flights between Hong Kong and Australia's major cities for airlines based in Hong Kong, broke down. So it seems that Cathay Pacific still has a lock on all remaining slots, according to a CAPA report.