Qantas could also choose to leverage the dominance of its frequent flyer scheme, which now had over 11.5 million members on its books, using promotions such as double points and status credits on Melbourne-Hong Kong flights to soak up forward bookings which may otherwise lean towards Virgin Australia.
Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. It will also allow those flying Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines to connect onto Virgin Australia's domestic and trans-Tasman network.
The airline flagged its first venture into the Chinese market in mid-2016 and confirmed in February it would launch a Hong Kong service but until now has not said if it would fly from Sydney or Melbourne.
Consumers in China like non-stop flights much more than they like time and money consuming connections in China, or its Special Administrative Region in Hong Kong.
The applicants said the alliance would offer travellers more choice and increase competition, noting Qantas and Cathay Pacific had a combined 99 per cent share of passengers and capacity on nonstop services between Australia and Hong Kong in 2015/16.
"Melbourne is an worldwide city in its own right and hosts some of Australia's biggest and most spectacular events".
According to statistics from the Federal Government, the Melbourne-Hong Kong route carried an average of 59,000 travellers per month over the last quarter of 2016.
Business Review Australia's March issue is now live.
China is shaping up as a key market for Australian carriers, with about 1.2 million Chinese tourists visiting Australia a year ago.
Yes, that's a big call, but there are some unresolved questions about Virgin's longer term plans and for that matter, the realistic prospects for China-Australia flights if we annoy those who remind us of the fiction that Hong Kong is a truly sovereign entity independent from Beijing. These will operate on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with the first flights taking off from Melbourne in the morning, departing at 12:35am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, 9:40am on Mondays and 10:25am on Wednesdays.
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