Air New Zealand plans to boost its presence in Australia with a premium passenger lounge at Perth’s international terminal.
The facility was expected to open “towards the end of the year”, Air New Zealand said on Wednesday. It will be the airline’s fourth international passenger lounge in Australia alongside Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
It is the latest example of the airline’s investment in the Australian market as it seeks to attract more travellers from this side of the Tasman onto its long-haul services.
Currently, the Star Alliance member has its own international passenger lounge in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
The Sydney lounge was expanded and upgraded in May 2015, while Air New Zealand welcomed the first passengers into its revamped Brisbane lounge in March 2016. The airline said upgrades to its Melbourne international lounge would be completed in the “coming months”.
Air New Zealand has year-round nonstop flights from Perth to Auckland, as well as seasonal service from Perth to Christchurch. Trans-Tasman alliance partner Virgin Australia codeshares on both routes, which are served with Boeing 787-9s.
“Perth was our first 787-9 Dreamliner route and our daily non-stop connection between Perth and Auckland attracts strong interest from customers travelling to New Zealand as well as on to North and South America,” Air New Zealand general manager for customer experience Anita Hawthorne said in a statement.
“The new Perth lounge will open towards the end of this year and will feature Air New Zealand’s stylish new signature look in line with the styling already enjoyed by our customers in Sydney and Brisbane.”
The building of a new Perth lounge was part of Air New Zealand’s $100 million lounge development program.
When it opens, Air New Zealand will be the second Star Alliance carrier to have a lounge at Perth Airport. Singapore Airlines (SIA) has a SilverKris lounge at Perth.
The New Zealand flag carrier has focused heavily on boosting international transfer passengers in recent times, with a particular emphasis on capturing a larger share of Australians heading to the Americas, where it serves six destinations – Buenos Aires, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.
Efforts have included sale fares of less than $1,000 for a return ticket to the US, while Air NZ boosted its Perth-Auckland schedule to 10 flights a week, from daily, to facilitate shorter connection times on its long-haul flights.
And in October Air New Zealand launched an advertising campaign featuring the voice of Australian actor Bryan Brown in a new marketing push to grow passenger numbers from this side of the Tasman travelling to the Americas via its Auckland hub.
“Most Australians know us as flying on the Tasman and we’ve been doing that job I think incredibly well,” Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon said in October.
“We want a slice of the Australian long-haul market, especially the traffic that heads from Australia through to North and South America.”
Luxon said in October about 20 per cent of passengers on its Houston service, and about 40 per cent of passengers bound for Buenos Aires were from Australia. Both routes were launched in December 2015. The figure was in the double digits on the rest of its North American network.
The chief executive said the push for more Australian transfer traffic to the Americas could pave the way for more widebody services on its trans-Tasman schedule.