Virgin goes bonkers for Honkers with flight launch

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Virgin Australia has lifted the lid and unveiled details of its alliance agreement with HNA Aviation, Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express, with the awesome foursome handing in their application for authorisation of the proposed alliance to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Provided they secure approval, the airlines plan to:

  • Introduce new direct services between Australia and the Hong Kong, as well as Australia and The People’s Republic of China (mainland China) operated by Virgin Australia;
  • Codeshare on each other’s flights between Australia and Hong Kong, between Australia and mainland China and on each other’s domestic networks; and
  • Co-operate in relation to route planning, sales, distribution and marketing, frequent flyer programs, lounge access and other activities.

As part of the first stage of the alliance, Virgin Australia has revealed it plans to introduce flights between Australia and Hong Kong as early as mid-2017, with the airlines going after interim authorisation so these services can kick off, alongside the codeshare arrangements.

Virgin Australia Group CEO John Borghetti said, “This new alliance will be a game changer for travel between Australia and China, providing significantly more competition and choice for travellers.

“We are excited about introducing direct Virgin Australia flights – and our famous customer service – to Hong Kong, together with access to destinations across China.

“The alliance will accelerate and support our access to the Chinese market, which is Australia’s fastest growing and most valuable inbound travel market.

“HNA Aviation fly nearly 100 million passengers each year and we look forward to working collaboratively with them to drive inbound visitation to Australia, resulting in significant benefits for the Australian tourism industry and broader economy.

“Importantly, this strategic alliance with HNA Aviation, Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express is a key plank in Virgin Australia’s International strategy and will help our business deliver long-term growth and success.”

Ok, so let’s break it down a bit more:

Direct services

Virgin Australia services to Hong Kong will be operated using Airbus A330 aircraft, which feature the airline’s Business Class, ‘The Business’. The alliance will offer guests on these services onward connections to destinations in mainland China on services operated by Hong Kong Airlines.

Further details on everything from schedules and pricing will be released provided they get the green light from the ACCC. Virgin Australia also plans to introduce direct flights between Australia and mainland China in further stages of the agreement.

Codeshare services

Subject to regulatory approval, Virgin Australia will implement codeshare (VA*) on services operated by Hong Kong Airlines, Hainan Airlines and other HNA Aviation airlines on journeys between Australia and mainland China and between Australia and Hong Kong.

Customers of Beijing Capital Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Tianjin Airlines will be able to book travel on Virgin Australia’s domestic and trans-Tasman network.

Loyalty program benefits

Velocity Frequent Flyer’s seven million members will also – should the airline get the go ahead – nab a frequent flyer partnership with Fortune Wings Club, including:

  • The opportunity to earn Points and Status Credits on alliance routes; and
  • Reciprocal access to tier status benefits including lounge access, priority check-in, priority boarding and additional baggage allowances.

Further details of the frequent flyer partnership will be released in coming months. Stay tuned.

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