Virgin Atlantic will not be resuming flights between London Heathrow (LHR) to Hong Kong (HKG) due to the closure of Russian airspace.
The decision to quit the route comes after almost 30 years of connecting Hong Kong to London. While the route had been suspended since December 2021, the carrier had planned to resume it in March 2023.
The UK-based carrier said it was a “difficult decision”. It will instead use the freed-up capacity for other destinations in its network for summer 2023.
“Significant operational complexities due to the ongoing Russian airspace closure have contributed to the commercial decision not to resume flights in March 2023 as planned, which have already been paused since December 2021,” it said in a statement on October 5, 2022.
For example, avoiding Russian airspace would add some 60 minutes to the flight time from LHR to HKG and approximately 1 hour 50 minutes in the other direction. The closure of Russian airspace has hit many European carriers, Finnair in particular
Hong Kong office to close too
Hong Kong has implemented some of the world’s strictest COVID-19 travel policies, resulting in a near collapse of passenger numbers for flag carrier Cathay Pacific. However, it finally ended mandatory hotel quarantine in September.
Virgin Atlantic is also closing its Hong Kong office as part of its decision not to resume the route. Connecting services for passengers from Australia had previously been available through Hong Kong, but Virgin Australia ended Hong Kong – Melbourne and Hong Kong – Sydney services in 2019, thus reducing the number of connecting customers to and from Australia.
“Our people and customers in Hong Kong have been amazing since we first touched down at the famous Kai Tak Airport in 1994 and since then we’ve provided important connectivity between the UK and Hong Kong for thousands of customers and supported global supply chains through our cargo operations,” Virgin Atlantic said.