Virgin Atlantic announced it is pulling out of Hong Kong, canceling flights and closing its offices in the Asian financial hub. The UK airline said in a statement last week that with Russian airspace remaining closed, that Heathrow-Hong Kong-Heathrow flight times would be at least one hour longer, and that in 2019, Virgin Australia ended Hong Kong-Melbourne and Hong Kong-Sydney services, reducing the number of connecting customers to and from Australia.
“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,” a spokesperson for the airline said. “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 added.
Virgin Atlantic has not operated any passenger flights to Hong Kong since December 2021, after the city-state suspended all flights from the U.K. due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. The airline was previously due to resume Hong Kong services from March 2023. However, with Wednesday’s announcement, it said it would be able to increase services in other key markets from next summer. Around 46 Virgin Atlantic jobs, including those of office staff and cabin crew, are set to be impacted by the decision, according to Bloomberg.
The airline said it would offer refunds or vouchers for alternate Virgin Atlantic services to the “limited number” of customers due to travel from March next year. Virgin’s exit from Hong Kong is the first by a major airline since American Airlines left the city in 2021.