After 30 years in operation, the flight route between London Heathrow airport and Hong Kong has permanently closed along with Virgin Atlantic’s Hong Kong office. But how will this affect others?

Contributing factors

The British airline has highlighted a number of factors as the cause for this route closing, with one being the closure of Russia’s airspace. Russia closed its airspace to all countries within the European Union back in February of this year. This decision meant that European airlines such as Virgin Atlantic could no longer fly planes over Russia and needed to find newer flight routes. Consequently, in the case of Virgin Atlantic, at least an additional one hour was added to the flight time between London Heathrow and Hong Kong and vice versa. With Virgin Australia discontinuing routes between Hong Kong and its major cities, Melbourne and Sydney, in 2019, connecting flights to and from Australia have become more and more infrequent. Virgin Atlantic’s presence in Hong Kong has also increasingly depleted as a result.

Covid-19

 Like with many airlines, precautions surrounding the pandemic created numerous complications for air travel. Virgin Atlantic had already suspended all passenger flights to Hong Kong in December 2021 following a rise in Covid-19 cases in the UK. This was initially not due to resume until March 2023. With the aviation industry having already suffered losses throughout the pandemic and connectivity between Hong Kong and the UK at an all-time low, Virgin Atlantic’s decision is not entirely surprising. 

Man wearing blue PPE at an empty airport during covid times
Empty airport during pandemic | © Govind Krishnan

Who will this impact?

An estimated 46 jobs will be lost across Virgin Atlantic due to the airline’s decision, which will undoubtedly create ramifications for the staff on a personal level. 

For its customers, a statement provided by Virgin Atlantic promised refunds, vouchers or alternative bookings to those who already had scheduled flights between Hong Kong and Heathrow from March 2023.

What do you think about Virgin Atlantic’s decision? Does their announcement affect your travel plans? Let us know in the comments!

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