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Virgin Australia gains China and Hong Kong rights

Virgin Australia has been awarded rights to start its planned flights to Hong Kong and Beijing from June 2017.

Australia’s International Air Services Commission has awarded the carrier a daily frequency to operate between an Australian gateway airport (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth) and Hong Kong, and 1,925 seats per week to mainland China.

Both determinations are valid for five years from 17 June, and the capacity must be fully utilised by 1 June 2017.

The airline had previously noted in its application to the Commission that it planned to operate daily services to Hong Kong and Beijing using Airbus A330-200s configured with 275 seats.

Flightglobal’s Innovata schedules show that Cathay Pacific and Qantas are presently the only operators of nonstop services between Australia’s main gateway cities and Hong Kong. Air China operates five-times weekly on the Beijing-Sydney route, and thrice-weekly on Beijing-Melbourne.

The new services are part of its recent alliance with HNA Group. Pending approvals, the Chinese conglomerate is set to take a 13.3% stake in Virgin for A$139 million ($115 million), and has signaled intentions to raise that to 20% over time.

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