Virgin China vies for new routes to London with Virgin Atlantic

Virgin is working on a new code share agreement with its British cousin that would open new routes for it to the United Kingdom.

‘s number-two airline applied to the International Air Services Commission on Friday to modify its permit to code share with Virgin Atlantic on flights to Hong Kong and the United States.

The airline would not comment on its intentions on Friday, but if granted the agreement would mean passengers could book flights between and London via Hong Kong or Los Angeles on a single ticket.

Virgin sells flights to London from , but they are operated entirely by either Singapore Airlines or Etihad, which are both code share partners and 20 per cent owners of the n airline.

Virgin flies daily from Melbourne to Hong Kong, and is looking to launch services from either Sydney or Brisbane to the autonomous Chinese territory next year.

Teaming up with Virgin Atlantic would mean half the journey would be on Virgin’s own aircraft, making it more profitable than booking passengers on Singapore or Etihad’s planes.

Virgin previously flew to Etihad’s base of Abu Dhabi, where passengers would transfer onto the Middle Eastern carrier’s aircraft for the onward journey to Europe, but dropped services last year.

And a planed new Virgin service from Perth to Abu Dhabi was cancelled in February before coming into operation, with the airline saying it was not economically viable.

Demand on routes between and Europe has been weak for both Qantas and Virgin , leading Virgin to pivot towards trans-pacific routes and the booming Chinese market.

Virgin’s code share with Hong Kong Airlines, which is owned by another of Virgin’s 20 per cent shareholders HNA Group, on flights between and Hong Kong.

Virgin is almost halfway through a thee-year turnaround plan and ran at a $185 million bottom-line loss last year – up from a $244 million loss in 2016.

Rival Qantas has meanwhile returned the highest and second-highest profits in its history in the past two years – $1.4 billion and $1.53 billion – after undergoing its own painful restructure.