Air New Zealand has completed the refurbishment of its Sydney Airport lounge, boosting seating capacity and adding a number of new features that will be progressively rolled out across other lounges in period ahead.
Recognising the importance Australia plays in Air NZ’s route network, Sydney was the first port chosen to showcase the airline’s new lounge concept and design as part of a $40 million lounge refurbishment program.
“We’ve got a large number of flights between Sydney and New Zealand,” Air NZ chief sales and commercial officer Cam Wallace said on the sidelines of the official lounge opening on Friday.
“We also have obviously our most connected strategic partner here in terms of Virgin Australia.
“This is a very important flagship lounge for us in an Australasian sense.”
Wallace said Virgin’s efforts to capture a larger slice of the corporate and business market had also benefitted Air NZ, given the number of firms with operations on both sides of the Tasman.
“It is quite a mature alliance now and it works very well for us both economically but also from a cultural perspective,” Wallace said.
“We have a very strong relationship with Virgin Australia.”
Air NZ’s Sydney lounge has capacity for just under 300 customers and features 14 different seating types from lounge chairs to long benches and quiet nooks for users to work, rest or play prior to their flight.
Sydney is Air NZ’s largest offshore port with about 20 flights a day to destinations in New Zealand, Rarotonga and Norfolk Island and a major hub of trans-Tasman alliance partner Virgin.
The lounge was designed in partnership with US-based architectural firm Genseler, which also contributed to the Air NZ-operated Star Alliance lounge at Los Angeles International Airport.
In addition to servicing passengers on Star Alliance carriers that operate to Sydney Airport – Air NZ, Air Canada, Air China, Air India, Asiana, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and United – the lounge is also used by non-aligned airlines such as Virgin, Delta, Hawaiian, Korean Air and Philippine Airlines, among others.
“You always make judgement calls on the capacity of the lounge, your competitive position and how many partner airlines you negotiate with and allow into the lounge,” Wallace said.
“The key thing for us though is making sure we had a quality facility for our customers and something which was appropriate for the number of flights and our brand in this market.”
One casualty of the lounge’s redevelopment is the removal of the hot dog stand as part of the food and beverage offering, which now consists of a traditional buffet, a theatre kitchen with two chefs preparing food in the open and a number of self-service drinks stands throughout the 1,500 square metre facility.
And a glass-backed bar that looks out onto the airfield will serve barista coffee during the day and cocktails in the evening.
An upgraded, expanded and revamped flagship lounge at Air NZ’s hub Auckland will be unveiled in August, with Brisbane and Queenstown to follow.
“The reality is it is not just about the Sydney lounge, today is about launching a whole new direction for Air New Zealand lounges across our network,” Wallace said.
The lounge was due to reopen at 0500 on Saturday.