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Virgin axes Hong Kong route after unrest

Liza Kappelle
Virgin Australia will stop flying from Australia to Hong Kong next month due to ongoing protests

Virgin Australia will stop flying to Hong Kong next month because the ongoing civil unrest in the already challenging market has taken a toll on its passenger numbers.

With this in mind and uncertainty surrounding the impact on travel of the fast-spreading novel coronavirus, the airline has decided to stop operating services from Australia to Hong Kong.

Virgin Australia began flying to Hong Kong in 2017 in a bid to take on Qantas and Cathay Pacific on the popular route.

It will stop flying there from March 2.

"The Hong Kong market has remained challenging for the airline and demand has continued to decline following ongoing civil unrest," the airline says in a statement on its website.

"These factors, combined with growing uncertainty around the recent coronavirus outbreak, have led to the decision to cease operating services."

Virgin Australia had already announced the suspension of its Melbourne-Hong Kong services from February 11.

Now it says the Sydney-Hong Kong service will cease operating from March 2 .

People booked to fly to Hong Kong with Virgin Australia after that date will be contacted by email, or their travel agent, to make new arrangements.

Virgin Australia Group chief commercial officer John MacLeod said it was a difficult decision but they are focused on financial discipline through the business.

While Hong Kong is no longer a commercially viable route for them, international tourism remains an important part of the business through other international routes and with partner airlines, Mr MacLeod said.