Virgin Australia has shored up its premium passenger lounge offering for passengers travelling on its international services.
The new arrangements that are due to come into effect from the end of October will give Virgin Australia a dedicated lounge at Melbourne and Sydney airports that will be operated by the No1 Lounges company and branded “The House”.
At Brisbane, Virgin Australia will utilise a No1 Lounges-operated facility branded “My House”.
While the facilities at Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney are not Virgin Australia lounges such as the 12 in its domestic network, the chief executive of the airline’s Velocity Frequent Flyer program Karl Schuster said the international lounges will have a “Virgin Australia flair”.
“We’re focused on providing great benefits to our Velocity members and this is just another way we can ensure their travel overseas is even more enjoyable,” Schuster said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has also secured access to contracted lounges at three New Zealand destinations – Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown – and plans to open one of its own lounges at Wellington Airport “in the next few months”.
The No1 Lounges at Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, as well as the contracted lounges in New Zealand, ensures Virgin Australia will continue to offer eligible passengers lounge facilities on trans-Tasman services after the alliance with Air New Zealand is terminated on October 28.
Air New Zealand announced in April it was walking away from the revenue sharing joint-venture in favour of going it alone on the Tasman, albeit with a codeshare agreement with Qantas for access to Australian domestic destinations it does not serve with its own aircraft.
Part of the JV included access to Air New Zealand lounges for eligible Virgin Australia frequent flyer members and business class passengers travelling on Australia-New Zealand services.
And given Virgin Australia did not have a dedicated lounge at any Australian international terminal, passengers had to navigate different arrangements depending on where they were travelling on the airline’s international network.
Virgin Australia group executive for airlines Rob Sharp said on Wednesday the arrangements would offer an improved passenger experience for those travelling overseas.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to ensuring guests have the best travel experience with Virgin Australia,” Sharp said in a statement.
“Guests are really going to benefit from the international lounge network which will be available in the next month.”
The lounges in Melbourne and Sydney will be located where the Etihad Airways lounge are currently and are being rebranded as “The House” by No1 Lounges.
The rebranding will be officially launched on October 23 in Sydney and October 27 in Melbourne.
The partnership between Etihad Airways and No1 Lounges was launched in early October with the announcement the airline’s London Heathrow Terminal 4 lounge would be rebranded as “The House” and managed by No1 Lounges.
Etihad Airways vice president of guest experience and delivery Linda Celestino said the expansion of the “The House” concept to Australia reflected the importance of the Australian market to the airline.
“We are more committed to Australia than ever and the launch of The House in Sydney and Melbourne, two of the most important gateways in our network, alongside London, is testament to that. We look forward to welcoming our guests down-under to a new and enhanced airport experience,” Celestino said.
Part of the rebranding will also include the improvements to the Sydney lounge such as the addition of a private room, an upgraded menu and 50 per cent more capacity.
No1 Lounges chief executive Phil Cameron said: “We share Virgin Australia’s bold and innovative spirit and are excited to be partnering with them.”
“We have worked closely with the airline to create unique branded experiences for its international passengers and look forward to welcoming them into the lounges.”