Executive Traveller reports the route – originally set to restart in March 2023 – will no longer be part of Virgin Atlantic’s network.
Virgin Atlantic Makes “Difficult Decision” After Multiple Setbacks
The airline began offering services between London Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) in the 1990s, adding more travel options between the mainland and then British colony. Since the transfer of Hong Kong back to China and an extended period of airline consolidation, flyers will now only have two options for direct flights between the two cities: British Airways and Cathay Pacific, both founding members of the Oneworld alliance.
A spokesperson for the airline pointed to the continued closure of Russian airspace as one of the key reasons behind the route ending. With war continuing in Ukraine, airlines have avoided flying over Russia in fear of another attack on a commercial airliner. However, continued COVID-19 lockdowns and precautions may also have played into the route ending, as the city maintained strict controls over entering and leaving the autonomous region. Although China has ended their strict protocols, the decision to end the airline’s presence in the Southwest Asian hub remains.
“After careful consideration we’ve taken the difficult decision to suspend our London Heathrow – Hong Kong services,” a spokesperson told Executive Traveller. “And close our Hong Kong office after almost 30 years of proudly serving this Asian hub city.”
Any flyers with tickets aboard Virgin Atlantic for travel in March 2023 and beyond will be given an option to either rebook their travel aboard Virgin Atlantic, given a travel voucher towards another flight, or given a refund. In the meantime, the airline says the Airbus A350 aircraft which were intended for use on that route will be used to “to increase frequencies in other key markets from the Summer 2023 schedule.”
Move Comes After Virgin Atlantic Joins SkyTeam
Virgin Atlantic’s decision to leave Hong Kong and close their international office comes days after the carrier officially announced their intention to join the SkyTeam alliance alongside longtime investor Delta Air Lines. This still gives flyers multiple codeshare options to get to Hong Kong and access the alliance lounge, including travel on partners China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Korean Air, Xiamen Airlines, Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. In addition, Virgin Atlantic maintains an interline agreement with Hong Kong Airlines, giving travelers options to still travel under the British carrier’s umbrella to the city.
Source: frugal travel guy