Virgin Australia Gets Green Light for Hong Kong Commercial Flights

20th Mar 2017

Virgin Australia can finally begin selling tickets for proposed Hong Kong flights after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) granted the airline an interim authorization for an alliance with HNA Group this Monday.

In its decision, the ACCC said:

"Interim authorization commences immediately and remains in place until it is revoked or the date the ACCC's final determination comes into effect."

The ACCC, it said, decided to grant an interim authorization for the alliance as it believes that it "appears likely to result in some public benefits and limited public detriment".

In a statement following ACCC's decision, Virgin Australia said it welcomes it and that:

"The Virgin Australia Group will announce further detail on the route, on sale date and when flights will commence soon."

VA has been applied for an alliance with HNA Group in February and has planned to begin flights in mid-2017 to Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane, using Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Also in February, Virgin Australia announced that its alliance with HNA Group, Hong Kong Airlines and KH Express will cover codeshare, reciprocal flyer benefits and cooperation on service scheduling and joint pricing between Australia and Hong Kong and mainland China.

In addition, the proposal said that there are other areas of cooperation which can help achieve "cost synergies through aircraft scale and utilisation benefits as well as benefits from using catering, ground handing, cargo and other operational benefits".

The codeshare itself covers Virgin Australia, Hong Kong Airlines Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines services between Australia and Hong Kong and mainland China, HNA Group's domestic network and services via New Zealand.

Also, since bilateral restrictions do not allow codesharing between mainland China and Hong Kong, the Australian carrier will offer interline connections between the two.

However, one of the problems is that Hong Kong Airlines cannot operate flights to any Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane or Perth as the Hong Kong carriers have reached full capacity according to the current bilateral air services agreement that Australia and Hong Kong have.

It's expected that ACCC will make the final decision regarding Virgin Australia-HNA Group alliance in the next few months.