Virgin Australia’s foray into China this year may include more than just direct services from Australia, if our local consumer watchdog signs off on the airline’s newest proposal.

The carrier, which is now partly owned by two major Chinese organisations, released details of a new airline alliance today with its investor HNA Aviation as well as Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express.

Currently waiting approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the arrangement will be a “game changer” for travel between Australia and China, according to Virgin’s CEO John Borghetti, by giving travellers more choice on travel to and within the two countries.

Virgin Australia planes

For example, Aussies will be able to book Virgin Australia operated flights between Australia and Hong Kong as well as Australia and mainland China.

Additionally, a codeshare on Virgin, Hong Kong Airlines and Hainan Airlines’ domestic networks will give Aussies better onward connections within China.

Other benefits will include route planning; joint distribution and marketing; reciprocal benefits on each other’s frequent flyer programs; and shared lounge access.

Hong Kong

“The alliance will accelerate and support our access to the Chinese market, which is Australia’s fastest growing and most valuable inbound travel market.”

John Borghetti, Virgin Australia CEO

“HNA Aviation fly nearly 100 million passengers each year and we look forward to working collaboratively with them to drive inbound visitation to Australia, resulting in significant benefits for the Australian tourism industry and broader economy.

“Importantly, this strategic alliance with HNA Aviation, Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express is a key plank in Virgin Australia’s International strategy and will help our business deliver long-term growth and success.”

The first stage of the alliance will kick off mid-2017 when Virgin Australia introduces flights between Australia and Hong Kong. The airline will utilise its A330 aircraft and expects to announce the departing port/s in Australia in the coming months.

What are your thoughts on the news?