The airline first announced plans to operate the route in February, without specifying a start date.
However, Virgin Australia said on Tuesday it will join Cathay Pacific and Qantas on the busy Sydney-Hong Kong route from July 2 2018.
It will operate Sydney-Hong Kong with its fleet of Airbus A330-200s featuring 20 business class seats with direct aisle access for every passenger and 255 seats in economy at eight abreast.
Once Virgin Australia commences Sydney-Hong Kong flights, its Melbourne-Hong Kong offering will drop back to five flights a week, from daily currently.
Flight timings for Melbourne-Hong Kong will also change from a daytime flight from Melbourne and red-eye return from Hong Kong to an overnight service in both directions.
It was understood the schedule changes were due to the availability of takeoff and landing slots at Hong Kong’s busy Chek Lap Kok Airport.
Virgin Australia’s two services between Australia and Hong Kong are supported by its alliance with HNA Group carriers including Hong Kong Airlines, which has its HX airline code on the Australian carrier’s services to Hong Kong.
There is also a codeshare arrangement with Virgin Atlantic, which in January received approval to add its VS airline code on Virgin Australia’s Hong Kong and Los Angeles services.
VIDEO: Virgin Australia kicked off its Melbourne-Hong Kong service on July 5 with a celebration at the terminal featuring Sir Richard Branson, as this video on Melbourne Airport’s YouTube channel shows.
Further, Virgin Australia announced on Tuesday it had established an interline arrangement with Hong Kong Express (another HNA Group carrier) for connections throughout Asia.
“Hong Kong is a vibrant and exciting destination but is also a gateway into Asia and Europe. We look forward to offering onward connections with our partners Hong Kong Airlines and Virgin Atlantic,” Virgin Australia group executive for airlines Rob Sharp said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Greater China is a key pillar of our strategy and the addition of Sydney services to our already popular Melbourne flights to Hong Kong strengthens our proposition immensely.”
The recent codeshare and interline agreements means means Virgin Australia will be able to sell flights to Asia either via Hong Kong (with connections from Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express) or via Singapore thanks to its alliance with Singapore Airlines (SIA).
Sharp told a recent industry conference the performance of its Melbourne-Hong Kong service that kicked off in July 2017 had given the airline the confidence to mount a new nonstop flight from Sydney to the Special Administrative Region.
“Melbourne from Day One had traffic flows of at least 50 per cent of the traffic coming straight down from the China peninsular and Hong Kong into Australia,” Sharp told delegates at the Routes Asia 2018 conference in Brisbane on March 19, in response to a question.
“Normally for new routes, you rely on your point-of-sale strength and in this instance our partner Hong Kong Airlines really brought quite a lot of traffic through and they have been a great partner up there.”
— Australian Aviation (@AusAviation) March 18, 2018
Having managed to secure the necessary slots at the busy Hong Kong airport to launch the Sydney flight, Sharp told the conference the airline was now working through the “very complex infrastructure aspects at Sydney Airport” in order to get the flights up and running by the middle of 2018.
“We are finalising those aspects and approvals through Hong Kong for being able to sell in the market. The usual logistics for a new route starting,” Sharp said.
With no orders for widebody aircraft, Virgin Australia has had to pull aircraft off some routes to expand its network, as it did with the start of A330-200 Melbourne-Hong Kong flights when some services between Perth and Australia’s east coast capitals were downgauged to 737-800s.
It will likely do so again in July the nonstop Sydney-Hong Kong flights commence.
Currently, Qantas operates twice daily between Sydney and Hong Kong using Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A330s, while Cathay Pacific has a peak schedule of up to four flights a day with a combination of Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 777-300ER equipment.
Days of operation
Time of departure
Time of arrival
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday