Huh? Hong Kong Airlines Wants To Start Service To Moscow Vnukovo

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As Cathay Pacific has monopolised Hong Kong’s aviation market for far too long, I’ve been happy to see Hong Kong Airlines expand quite nicely. They offer a decent product in both business and economy class (as far as I’ve heard, though I’ll be finding out for myself in a couple of weeks), and they’ve made a few longhaul launches as of late, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Auckland.

a plane on the groundHong Kong Airlines Airbus A330 Sapporo Chitose Airport

So far I’ve been really happy seeing Hong Kong Airlines expand, and I agree with the choices that they’ve been making so far. However, this new route is a bit of a curveball for me, so I’m trying to figure out the logic behind it.

Airlineroute reports that Hong Kong Airlines wants to fly to Moscow Vnukovo Airport as of May 18, 2018. While the route isn’t bookable yet, it’s been loaded into the airline’s GDS inventory. The schedule for the flights has been released as follows:

HX 2019 Hong Kong to Moscow dep 15:00 arr 20:10 Fri, Sun
HX 2019 Hong Kong to Moscow dep 16:15 arr 21:25 Tue
HX 2018 Moscow to Hong Kong dep 00:35 arr 15:15 Mon, Wed, Sat

The flights will all be run by Hong Kong Airlines’ longhaul A330, which features staggered seats in business class, and comfortable seats in a 2-4-2 configuration in economy.

Image result for hong kong airlines site:youngtravelershongkong.comHong Kong Airlines’ A330 business class looks great, for those that actually need to fly the route

Furthermore, the route has already loaded onto ExpertFlyer, which signals that they’re pretty serious about this.


Hong Kong Airlines hasn’t had amazing loads with newly launched routes. Their Gold Coast and Cairns route was a joke when it launched, though it seems to have been profitable enough to at least be sustainable over a couple of years. But the Gold Coast has unique beaches and is a popular tourist destination, and Cairns houses the Great Barrier Reef.

Cathay Pacific cut out their Moscow route back in 2014. Granted, they were operating a gas guzzling A340, and Aeroflot is finding profitability flying 402 seats from Moscow to Hong Kong daily. But then Aeroflot has connecting traffic from the rest of Europe, and they also have insanely cheap fares (I’ve never seen a business class ticket from Hong Kong to Europe through Moscow on Aeroflot go above HK$24,000, and that’s the very upper end of the spectrum during peak season). But let’s assume the Moscow to Hong Kong route is profitable enough, since Hong Kong Airlines probably did some market research before making an informed decision.

  • Why Moscow Vnukovo Airport? It’s the least busiest airport in all of Moscow, handling only 20% of the city’s air traffic, less than half of what Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport handles
  • Is there going to be any connecting traffic, since Moscow was chosen before a ton of other destinations that the A330 can handle?
  • How will the pricing be like? Aeroflot has insanely cheap prices, that Hong Kong Airlines will have to keep up with (granted people will probably trust Hong Kong Airlines over Aeroflot, even though I’ve heard nothing but good things about Aeroflot’s “new” products)

IMG_2302Aeroflot Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport

Even more comically, this isn’t even Hong Kong Airlines’ first attempt at flying to Moscow. The airline’s first longhaul route was to Moscow Sheremetyevo in 2010. Clearly that didn’t work out since they don’t fly there anymore – that route’s last flight was in March 2012.

Trying their luck at an even smaller airport in the same city with virtually no connecting traffic is a little like trying to find marshmallows at a warehouse after they ran out at the grocery store…

Bottom Line

On one hand I’m glad to see Hong Kong Airlines expand, and I’m happy to see that there’s once again competition on the Hong Kong to Moscow route (there’s no denying that Moscow is rich in culture, and I’d love to visit sometime). However, while Hong Kong Airlines has made some questionable decisions in the past, I think this one takes the cake.

I’m really excited to see how Hong Kong Airlines will announce this formally to the public.

1 comment

  1. I think the reason why Cathay Pacific failed on the Moscow route was that they used the A340-300, a rather inefficient plane for a rather small market. Moscow-Hong Kong is around 7500 km, around the same distance as Melbourne-Hong Kong where they currently use the A330 on, so I never understood why the A340-300 was chosen for the Moscow route, rather than the lighter and more efficient A330-300 (back then the A350 hasn’t flown yet). Even Aeroflot at one time used the A330-300 to Hong Kong a few years back.

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