Virgin Australia sells 13 percent stake to China’s HNA Aviation Group

Kate Webster

HNA Aviation Group, China’s largest private airline operator, will buy a 13 percent stake in Virgin Australia, worth $159 million as part of the deal

The Australian airline says the deal will help it capitalise on the growing Chinese travel market.

The move opens the market between the two countries with direct flights between Australia and a number of Chinese cities to be introduced, in addition to code-sharing, frequent flyer programs and lounge access.

Virgin Australia announced that HNA would increase its stake in the company to 19.99 percent over time.

Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti said “China was Australia’s fastest growing and most valuable inbound travel market, growing at about 18 per cent a year since 2010.”

“The alliance will see us leverage the opportunities offered by China as well as the synergies of HNA’s comprehensive aviation supply chain,” Borghetti added.

The flights will start in the first half 2017 and will be serviced by a mix of Virgin and HNA aircraft.

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