Aviation

Virgin Australia targets more sustainable Hong Kong service in closer co-op with Virgin Atlantic

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Virgin Australia has been authorised to “more closely” cooperate with Virgin Atlantic on flights between Australia, Britain and Ireland.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has authorised Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic to more closely cooperate on flights between Australia and the United Kingdom, in a move that could make the Australian airline’s Hong Kong service more sustainable.

“The arrangements which have been authorised will not lessen competition on any route, and are likely to provide public benefits, including through improved scheduling and enhanced loyalty program benefits,” ACCC commissioner Stephen Ridgeway said.

Flights will occur through Hong Kong, Los Angeles and “any other future connecting points”, the ACCC said in a statement on Friday.

In June, Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic applied for authorisation to enable them to cooperate in relation to services between Australia and the United Kingdom and Ireland by mutual mid-points in Hong Kong and Los Angeles, and any future mutual connection point.

Both businesses already have a codeshare arrangement, which allows each to market flights on planes flown by the other.

Virgin Australia considers that the cooperation between both Virgin carriers will increase its passenger numbers, making its Hong Kong service more sustainable.

“We’re pleased that the ACCC has granted authorisation for a longer term cooperation agreement between Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic,” a Virgin Australia spokesperson told Travel Weekly. 

“This is great news for customers who will be able to experience more competitive pricing on flights between Australian and the UK/Ireland via Hong Kong or LA and enhanced reciprocal frequent flyer arrangements, amongst other benefits.”

Further details on the arrangement are expected to be shared in the coming months.

Earlier this week, Virgin Australia announced it will suspend its Melbourne–Hong Kong service from 11 February 2020.

CEO Paul Scurrah noted the ongoing anti-government, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, which have entered into their 22nd consecutive week, had played a part in a decline in demand for the service.

“Demand for the Hong Kong route has declined in line with the political landscape and we feel this is now best serviced through a single daily Sydney-Hong Kong service,” Scurrah said.

“The Airbus A330 currently operating the Melbourne-Hong Kong services will be re-deployed onto our daily Brisbane-Haneda flights commencing in March 2020, where we expect strong demand.”

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