Virgin Australia to launch Sydney-Hong Kong flights mid-2018

Virgin Australia to launch Sydney-Hong Kong flights mid-2018

UPDATE | Virgin Australia's daily flights between Sydney and Hong Kong will launch on Monday July 2, 2018, and are now on sale – read our story for full details.

PREVIOUS | Virgin Australia will begin daily flights between Sydney and Hong Kong from the middle of 2018.

The flights will run on the airline's  Airbus A330 jets featuring its highly-regarded The Business business class, and follows the launch of Melbourne-Hong Kong in late 2017, although those flights are being trimmed back to five days a week.

AusBT review: Virgin Australia business class, Melbourne to Hong Kong

The service will also offer onwards connections to Virgin Atlantic Airway’s flights to London, offering a new Virginesque spin on the Kangaroo Route – although there's quite some hours to be spent at Hong Kong airport between the late afternoon arrival of the Virgin Australia flight and the near-midnight departure of the Virgin Atlantic flight.

AusBT review: Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 business class, Hong Kong to London

Here is Virgin Australia's Sydney-Hong Kong schedule, for which the airline says tickets will "go on sale soon":

  • VA89 departs Sydney at 10am, arriving into Hong Kong at 5.40pm
  • VA88 departs Hong Kong at 7.50pm, arriving into Sydney at 7.10am the next day

This timetable put the challenger smack against the mid-morning Sydney departures of incumbents Qantas and   Cathay Pacific, both of which are sure to unleash a sharply competitive response to Virgin's arrival on what has to date been almost a monopoly route for the Oneworld airlines.

“The new Sydney-Hong Kong service will link two global destinations and will allow Virgin Australia to further access the fastest growing and most valuable Australian inbound market, China, with our alliance partner Hong Kong Airlines" says Virgin Australia Group CEO, John Borghetti.

Meanwhile, a revised timetable for Melbourne-Hong Kong shows flights being dropped from Wednesdays and Fridays – a move which Borghetti says is related to availability of slots at the busy Hong Kong airport.

"It's purely a slot issue," he said, adding that ticket sales on the service were strong and the route "was performing very well... it's being very strongly supported at both ends."

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.
 

44 comments

  • plutekplutek

    plutekplutek

    28 Feb, 2018 09:03 am

    So this must mean the final nail in coffin for A330 transcons.
    No member give thanks

  • paul

    Paully

    28 Feb, 2018 03:21 pm

    Bugger - I love the 330's going to perth each week.
    No member give thanks

  • bagpuss

    bagpuss

    28 Feb, 2018 04:05 pm

    Not really, this will take up one airframe. Considering that there is one airframe currently out of service for maintenance the current schedules roughly reflect what to expect once the service goes live. Of course, you also have 2 days now where an a330 will be "free'ed up" by the reduced frequency from Melbourne
    No member give thanks

  • Tony Fisicaro

    Tonyfisicaro86

    28 Feb, 2018 09:17 am

    VA should now had code share agreements with VS to have flights to London as arrival and departure times all link together
    Member who gave thanks

    Neil R

  • eminere

    eminere

    28 Feb, 2018 10:41 am

    Albeit with a long layover.
    No member give thanks

  • James Barker

    James Barker

    28 Feb, 2018 09:22 am

    Wow, competition getting really serious now, Virgin isn't mucking about! I hope the market can sustain this added service because with 4 x CX flights and 2 x QF flights, and that including three Cathay Boeing 777-300ERs and a Qantas A380 which is rumoured to become a full-time service, that's a lot of seats!
    No member give thanks

  • Dave

    Grannular

    28 Feb, 2018 09:28 am

    Good to see. A strong Virgin is good for everyone. Good to see the same departure and arrival times as well. The Melb service was a bit of a basket case when it was announced.
    No member give thanks

  • reeves35

    reeves35

    28 Feb, 2018 09:46 am

    They seem to have picked up some good slots. I don't know if these are a new allocation or have been transferred from Hong Kong Airlines.
    No member give thanks

  • Ceejay

    Ceejay

    28 Feb, 2018 03:51 pm

    I believe these are the old Mel slots. The new slots recently approved were outside Syd curfew so these went to Mel and vice versa. HK Airlines only has OOL slots under an agreement that HK carriers have a max capacity to some Aus cities. I. E Cathays has utilised these slots in most key cities.
    No member give thanks

  • Andrew

    andyf

    28 Feb, 2018 09:44 am

    What I don't get is why Hong Kong Airlines flies into the Gold Coast rather than say Sydney or Melbourne. I flew in this morning, business class was no more than 1/4 full; economy even less!

    Surely the Gold Coast market simply doesn't support the traffic, and combining with Virgin to add some frequency to either Sydney or Melbourne makes more sense?
    No member give thanks

  • madge

    madge

    28 Feb, 2018 09:51 am

    Cathay used up all the allocated capacity for HK carriers to Australia.
    No member give thanks

  • hutch

    hutch

    28 Feb, 2018 09:52 am

    @andyf - Hong Kong based carriers have used up all the capacity available to them at Australia's main 4 markets. So they are unable to fly to Syd or Melb
    No member give thanks

  • Ceejay

    Ceejay

    28 Feb, 2018 03:53 pm

    There is a HK agreement that there is a max capacity of seats they can sell to certain cities. Cathay takes up available seats to Bris, Syd and Mel so they can't fly here
    No member give thanks

  • Scott Brown

    DownSouth

    28 Feb, 2018 09:46 am

    Great news, hope Virgin does well against the monopoly with QF/CX in partnership.
    No member give thanks

  • hutch

    hutch

    28 Feb, 2018 09:56 am

    CX and QF 'partnership' is hardly strong, if even existent. No codesharing, price setting or coordination. The route has been a duopoly for some time.
    No member give thanks

  • Dan

    DanV

    28 Feb, 2018 12:26 pm

    QF and CX have been frenemies since the birth of the Oneworld Alliance. They've been hostile enemies before that since the 90s. Even if they were to break the ice and suddenly apply for a JV, regulators on both ends will not likely to approve it.

    The most "co-operation" you'll get out of QF and CX is 'bagging interlining' since they are in the same alliance.
    No member give thanks

  • StuParr

    StuParr

    28 Feb, 2018 10:09 am

    It appears A330 lease agreements are to be announced sometime in the future.
    No member give thanks

  • rob01

    rob01

    28 Feb, 2018 10:28 am

    That's a great departure time for the flight up to HK. Will lounge access be the Etihad lounge?
    No member give thanks

  • Dc08

    Dc08

    28 Feb, 2018 10:29 am

    Don't know why they don't launch a BNE to HKG, we're crying out for some more capacity to HKG. The two daily Cathay flights are always full.
    Member who gave thanks

    rRamjet

  • reeves35

    reeves35

    28 Feb, 2018 10:53 am

    I'm sure they'd love to but suitable slots are fairly hard to come by. They have to wait until HKIA release new slots which given the clogged runways during peak times are pretty scarce.
    No member give thanks

  • PERflyer

    PERflyer

    1 Mar, 2018 12:39 am

    If they wanted to Lift capacity the first thing they could do is upguage to 77W like they have to Syd/Mel.
    No member give thanks

  • Scott Brown

    DownSouth

    28 Feb, 2018 10:41 am

    Think HK airport is heavily slot limited, new entrants need to creep as new slots open and will take a while to fill new routes daily.
    No member give thanks

  • Yusef Danet

    Yusef Danet

    28 Feb, 2018 10:54 am

    but MEL-HKG taking a hit. Back to 5 per week with less appealing timeslots.
    No member give thanks

  • Packetman21

    Packetman21

    28 Feb, 2018 11:11 am

    Just another reason to build a proper VA lounge for international customers...
    No member give thanks

  • reeves35

    reeves35

    28 Feb, 2018 11:56 am

    It would make more sense to co-brand a lounge with EY in both MEL and SYD. The excellent but expensive for the airline EY lounges are under-utilised given EY have only a couple of flights each day. Likewise, it doesn't make sense for VA to operate a dedicated lounge for only a few flights.
    No member give thanks

  • BJ01

    BJ01

    28 Feb, 2018 02:44 pm

    Possibly similar to what VA do @ LAX? Whilst not visibly co-branded as such, it was interesting to note the EK lounge @ LAX was staffed by VA uniformed representatives when I was there 2 weeks ago prior to departing on VA7. Obviously no EK flights at that time but I did think that was a smart use of the space that would otherwise be closed
    No member give thanks

  • smit0847

    smit0847

    28 Feb, 2018 07:47 pm

    VA staff also man the desk of the EY MEL lounge for the morning HKG departure. Its weird seeing a VA uniform in there. Its also weird that they say 'we don't announce the flight boarding but will come around and tell you individually'. Are they not allowed to use the microphone? Why?
    No member give thanks

  • JBL

    JBL

    28 Feb, 2018 03:05 pm

    Cobranding is potentially on the books due to EY's poor economic performance. VA staff pretty much already run the lounge before any of their own flights
    No member give thanks

  • Rkwm

    Rkwm

    28 Feb, 2018 11:14 am

    Excellent news . Iam a regular on this route and will most certainly support this competitive move by Virgin. The time slots secured by Virgin are favorable given the limited access in Hong Kong .
    I hope nothing but success for Virgin on this popular route.
    Members who gave thanks

    David, danmuli

  • cssaus

    cssaus

    28 Feb, 2018 12:59 pm

    I wonder if VA will be able to sell a code-share flight with VS to LHR via HK?
    No member give thanks

  • Ryan O'Leary

    ryanoleary

    28 Feb, 2018 02:09 pm

    Have any members here heard (or have inside info) about when these flights will be bookable? How long did Melbourne take from the announcement to being available? Fingers crossed for some decent award availability.
    No member give thanks

  • Ceejay

    Ceejay

    28 Feb, 2018 09:15 pm

    Last year, mel-hkg started flying in July and was on sale late March. Syd-hkg is expected to fly July this year so assuming final applications and approvals are cleared it should be by the end of March
    Member who gave thanks

    ryanoleary

  • Rohit

    Rohit

    28 Feb, 2018 02:10 pm

    Best piece of news from Virgin stable for a long time. Opens up the possibility of onward connections into rest of Asia, Europe and US big time.
    No member give thanks

  • Jorge_fly

    Jorge_fly

    28 Feb, 2018 03:00 pm

    This is fantastic! Would be awesome for a night flight but hey, just happy to have the opportunity to fly virgin to HK
    Member who gave thanks

    Paully

  • Spaz

    Spaz

    28 Feb, 2018 03:38 pm

    Nice time slots VA let’s see if VA beat QF on prices...
    Let the price war begin...
    No member give thanks

  • moa999

    moa999

    28 Feb, 2018 05:55 pm

    MEL appears to be overnight in both directions, with substantial downtime in HKG

    MEL-HKG VA85 0030/0810 - Mon, Tues, Thu, Sat, Sun

    HKG-MEL VA84 1810/0540 (+1) - Tues, Thu, Sat, Sun

    HKG-MEL VA84 1915/0645 (+1) - Mon

    No member give thanks

  • FLX

    FLX

    28 Feb, 2018 09:06 pm

    @moa999:
    The revised MEL-HKG schedule clearly scream connection opportunities @ MEL and more importantly, considering the growth rate of China-origin traffic heading to AU these days, @ HKG with a wide array of sister carrier routes by HNA group.
    No member give thanks

  • puppy79

    puppy79

    28 Feb, 2018 07:09 pm

    about time too.While I do not agree with the scheduling coming home It is pretty good on the way up.What I plan to do for Hong Kong in the future is Adelaide-Sydney-Hong Kong on Virgin Australia but coming home if it is available get on the direct Cathay Pacific nonstop as I am frequent flyers in both Virgin Velocity and Qantas Frequent Flyer.We have not had a third operator direct on that sector since Virgin Atlantic and way before that Ansett Australia for a long time.
    No member give thanks

  • Fqtv

    Zac

    28 Feb, 2018 09:52 pm

    Great news, well done Virgin. I like Cathay but I'll support this route on Virgin.
    No member give thanks

  • JT Skip

    JTSkip

    28 Feb, 2018 11:47 pm

    If They drop the 330-200 to Perth which has the best Business Class I will have to move back to Qantas
    No member give thanks

  • Luke Spence

    Luke49

    1 Mar, 2018 07:13 am

    Regarding Melbourne flights. Leaving MEL at 0030 and arriving MEL at 0540. I’d say this change is so an A330 can still run domestically in daytime.
    No member give thanks

  • CityRail

    CityRail

    1 Mar, 2018 09:49 am

    I am glad that Virgin finally launches SYD-HKG at last. The timing for the flight is excellent as well.

    Moreover, if Sydneysiders need to arrive Hong Kong early, they can go via Melbourne which their luggage can check thru - no worries.

    Despite that, I have requests that I hope @ChrisCh can communicate to Virgin about:

    1. I really hope the new service will start no later than mid-June. There are many Uni students in Sydney who need this service to go back to HK/Asia after the semester ends in June. So to not miss the great opportunity to market across unis and boost patronage.

    2. I hope Virgin will start installing WiFi on A332 soon. Allowing WiFi on board will attract business customers to switch from Qantas early.

    3. Virgin should investigate installing Premium Economy on A332s to replace Economy X. If Qantas can afford to install PEY on B789 to Perth, so should Virgin Australia. And installing PEY will lure high yield pax to switch airlines.
    No member give thanks

  • yewengng

    yewengng

    17 Apr, 2018 05:09 pm

    Any news on which lounge VA Gold/Plat members will get in Sydney on these flights?
    No member give thanks

  • David Flynn

    David

    17 Apr, 2018 05:20 pm

    Not as yet, rest assured that when we have that news we will publish it.
    Member who gave thanks

    yewengng

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19 Nov, 2018 10:20 am

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