Virgin Atlantic ceases operations in Hong Kong, cites Russian airspace closure ‘complexities’

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  • British airline Virgin Atlantic announced on Wednesday that it was permanently halting flights to Hong Kong.
  • The move, involving the closure of Russian airspace, ended the airline’s 30-year presence in the Asian financial hub.
  • Virgin Atlantic said it will stop its flight from London Heathrow to Hong Kong and close its local office in Hong Kong, which is expected to affect 46 jobs.

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British airline Virgin Atlantic announced on Wednesday that it was permanently halting flights to Hong Kong due to concerns over the closure of Russian airspace.

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The decision marks the end of London Heathrow’s flight to Hong Kong and the closure of its Hong Kong office. It also completes the airline’s 30-year presence in the Asian financial hub.

The closure of Russian airspace following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in late February was one of several “complexities” that influenced the decision, Virgin Atlantic said in a statement.

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It says that due to airspace remaining closed, flight times from Heathrow to London will be about one hour longer than in 2019, and flights from Hong Kong to Heathrow will be 1 hour and 50 minutes longer.

He added that the 2019 cessation of Virgin Australia flights from Hong Kong to Melbourne and from Hong Kong to Sydney had already reduced the airline’s footprint in the city-state.

“After careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to suspend our flights from London Heathrow to Hong Kong and close our Hong Kong office after nearly 30 years of proud service to this Asian hub city,” an airline spokesman said.

“Significant operational difficulties due to the ongoing closure of Russian airspace contributed to the commercial decision not to resume flights in March 2023 as planned, which had already been suspended since December 2021,” the agency added.

Virgin Atlantic has not operated any passenger flights to Hong Kong since December 2021, after the city-state suspended all flights from the UK due to a resurgence in Covid-19 cases.

Previously, the airline had to resume flights to Hong Kong from March 2023. However, with Wednesday’s announcement, it said it could increase services in other key markets from next summer.

The decision will affect about 46 jobs at Virgin Atlantic, including office workers and flight attendants. according to Bloomberg.

The airline said it would offer refunds or alternative Virgin Atlantic service vouchers to a “limited number” of customers who travel from March next year.

Virgin’s departure from Hong Kong is the first for a major airline since American Airlines left the city at the end of 2021.

Credit: www.cnbc.com /

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