VIRGIN Atlantic Airways has made a spectacular debut in Hong Kong, receiving more than 1,200 ticket reservations yesterday in the first few hours of opening its first ticketing office in the territory. The airline, run by colourful British entrepreneur Richard Branson, was staggered by the public response after placing its first newspaper advertisements for its new London-Hong Kong service yesterday. It is now quite confident of good passenger load factors when it begins services in and out of Hong Kong on February 22. Despite chronic congestion at Kai Tak in the evening, Virgin has somehow managed to secure a daily departure slot out of Hong Kong between 9.25 pm and 10 pm. Its early morning arrival times in the UK will be similar to those offered by its two direct-service competitors, British Airways and Cathay Pacific. Competition between the three to win passengers is expected to be intense. Virgin has avoided mounting a direct fare war to win market share. However it will be mounting a special promotion on February 19 to coincide with its Hong Kong launch. Virgin does not offer first class seating. But it claims its so-called ''Upper Class'', or business class, easily measures up to the first class services operated by BA and Cathay. At $21,390 for a return trip, Virgin claims it is offering first class travel at business class prices. Both BA and Cathay charge $42,600 for full-fare first class return tickets and $21,410 for return business class tickets. Virgin's full-fare economy class is priced at $14,670 for a return ticket. Group economy class fares range from $8,420 to $11,160.