Virgin Australia is expanding into Asia with the launch of 5x weekly flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong.

The flights will operate to a rather bizarre schedule with the first flight departing for Hong Kong on 5 July, 2017. VA87 will depart Melbourne for Hong Kong at 10.25am on Mondays and 9.40am on Wednesdays, while VA89 will depart just after midnight on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. In the opposite direction VA86 will depart Hong Kong at 7.50pm, arriving in Melbourne at 8.15am the following morning. No flights will run on Fridays or Sundays.

The confusing schedule appears to be the result of difficulties securing slots at Hong Kong’s congested international airport.

Far from ideal. It’s clear there were issues getting slots as the schedule is frankly a dog’s breakfast.

Hopefully once established VA will be able to renegotiate slots to get a consistent timetable going. Right now you would be planning your meetings around VA’s schedule and not the other way round. Or more likely, booking with CX…

Virgin is likely to offer onward connections from Hong Kong to mainland China on airlines including Hong Kong Airlines and Hainan Airlines, after Virgin recently received interim ACCC approval to co-operate with these and other HNA Group airlines.

The new flights represent a fresh strategy for Virgin Australia, which recently withdrew from the Sydney-Abu Dhabi route. These flights were to be replaced by Perth-Abu Dhabi, but that route was abandoned before the first flight had even departed. Instead of flying into Etihad’s Middle Eastern hub of Abu Dhabi, Virgin is now foraying into Asia. It could be a sign of things to come, as Virgin have previously said they were also considering flying directly into mainland China.

The Melbourne-Hong Kong flights will be operated by A330-200 aircraft with 20 lie-flat Business seats and 255 Economy class seats. Virgin Australia currently has six A330s which are predominantly used on trans-continental flights between Perth and the east coast of Australia. There is some concern that the use of A330s on international flights will see Perth services downgraded.

Fares were released for sale last week, with return fares selling for around $750 in Economy and $3,500 in Business class. A one-way Economy Reward seat from Melbourne to Hong Kong costs 27,800 Velocity points and a Business Reward seat costs 59,500 points – although our members have so far been unable to find any available Reward seats.

It will also be possible to upgrade these flights from Freedom fares for 27,500 Velocity points.

Our members have so far been underwhelmed by the lack of promotion for the new route…

Anyone curious there hasn’t been more promotion for the new route, such as a sale fare or even a mention of the flights on the airline’s website? It seems strange to have announced MEL-HKG, commenced ticket sales and then … nothing. Am I missing something here?

While our members hope that the new route will succeed, some are sceptical that it will last.

I don’t think this will last , well probably longer than the Per-Auh route, I’m surprised that VA will approach this half-cocked. It’s hard to take them seriously and if they want to compete with QF/CX they need to rethink their their execution strategy. I wouldn’t have bothered releasing this route…. if I lived in Melb I’d go CX. I like Virgin and want them to succeed but they seem to have an endless supply of bullets except they keep shooting them selves in the foot

Join the discussion HERE.

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]