SYDNEY, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- Australian airline Virgin Australia reaffirmed on Friday its plans to launch a new route to Hong Kong, to capitalise on the burgeoning tourist market from China.
The Australian carrier is waiting on approval, for their proposed partnership with China's biggest private airline operator HNA Group, from Australia's competition regulatory body.
Virgin Australia chief executive officer John Borghetti says he is hoping to secure provisional approval within the next few weeks, and has plans to increase competition on the route currently dominated by Qantas and Cathay Pacific.
"Hong Kong is really just the route that's covered by two carriers. I mean Cathay and Qantas have got it by the throat," Borghetti said.
"We intend to break that duopoly and bring real competition on the route."
China is on target to eclipse New Zealand as the largest tourist market for Australia, with Australian Bureau of Statistics figures indicating over 1.2 million Chinese tourists visited the country last year, compared to 1.3 million Kiwis.
The Virgin Australia boss was adamant that the new alliance with HNA Aviation, Hong Kong Airlines, and HK Express would be a "game changer" for Australia to China travel.
"The alliance will accelerate and support our access to the Chinese market, which is Australia's fastest growing and most valuable inbound travel market." Borghetti said.