SYDNEY, March 21 (Reuters) - Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd
, the country's No. 2 airline, said it would run five
return flights a week between the city of Melbourne and Hong
Kong, making good on previously disclosed plans to tap the
lucrative Chinese travel market.
The airline, 10 percent-owned by British entrepreneur
Richard Branson, identified China as a target growth market in
mid-2016 when it took on China's HNA Innovation Ventures
and China's Nanshan Capital Holdings as major
The announcement of the new flights, the first for Virgin to
greater China, came a day after Virgin said it obtained
Australian preliminary regulatory clearance to operate those
"Virgin Australia's entry into Hong Kong and greater China
is a key pillar of our international strategy, allowing us to
tap into Australia's fastest growing and most valuable inbound
travel market," Virgin Chief Executive Officer John Borghetti
said in a statement.
A proposed alliance between Virgin Australia, HNA and Hong
Kong Airlines will let Virgin customers connect via Hong Kong to
13 destinations in mainland China, while travellers on Hainan
Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Capital Airlines and Tianjin
Airlines can join Virgin Australia's Australasian network,
Virgin Australia said.
Virgin Australia has said it plans in the longer term to
sell flights between Australia and mainland China.
The airline will compete with Australian No. 1 airline
Qantas Airways Ltd and Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific
Airways on the Melbourne-Hong Kong route.
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Peter Cooney)