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Virgin Atlantic to permanently stop London-Hong Kong flights

A Virgin Atlantic aeroplane tailfin and nose livery are seen at Heathrow airport.
Virgin Atlantic has not operated any passenger flights to the financial hub since December, when travel from the UK was banned due to the COVID pandemic. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

Virgin Atlantic has announced it has permanently pulled out of Hong Kong, cancelling all flights from London Heathrow into the city.

The airline said several factors contributed to the decision, including the closure of Russian airspace that made flight times between one to two hours longer.

It comes despite the Chinese territory recently abandoning mandatory quarantine for all visitors.

Virgin is set to shut its offices in Hong Kong after 30 years in the financial hub. It has not operated any passenger flights to the financial hub since December, when travel from the UK was banned due to the COVID pandemic.

“After careful consideration we’ve taken the difficult decision to suspend our London Heathrow — Hong Kong services and close our Hong Kong office, after almost 30 years of proudly serving this Asian hub city,” it said in a statement.

"We're very sorry for the disappointment caused to our loyal customers on this route and anyone booked to travel from March 2023 will be offered a refund, voucher or the option to rebook on an alternative Virgin Atlantic route."

Some 46 jobs expected to be impacted, including cabin crew.

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In 2019, Virgin Australia also ended its services between Melbourne, Sydney and Hong Kong, reducing the number of connecting customers.

The group is the first major airline to pull out of Hong Kong completely since American Airlines (AAL) left last year.

The move leaves British Airways (BA) and Cathay Pacific (0293.HK) as the only airlines now offering non-stop flights between London and Hong Kong. BA is currently set to restart its daily BA31/BA32 service in December.

Virgin said it will use the aircraft previously earmarked for Hong Kong “to increase frequencies in other key markets from the summer 2023 schedule.” It said it still intended to resume flights to Shanghai.

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