Sir Richard Branson's airline Virgin Atlantic will have to explain alleged competition law breaches concerning pricing strategies on the London to Hong Kong air route, it was revealed today.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) issued a "statement of objections" today alleging that Virgin and Far East carrier Cathay Pacific Airways have infringed competition law in relation to London-Hong Kong passenger services.

The OFT said the case concerned a number of alleged contacts between employees of the two airlines over several years.

It added that these contacts allegedly had the object of "co-ordinating the parties' respective pricing strategies regarding passenger fares through the exchange of commercially sensitive information on pricing and other commercial matters".