Etihad Airways will open lounges at both Sydney and Melbourne airports next year, followed by the debut of Airbus A380 services from both cities, as the Gulf carrier and Virgin Australia partner strengthens its presence in the local market.
A spokesman for Etihad Airways confirmed the plans to Australian Business Traveller, adding that Sydney’s lounge is currently slated to open in "early 2014" – a few months later than the most recently-advised "late 2013" timetable – while the Melbourne lounge is expected to open later in the year.
Although the first proposed in 2012 as joint ventures with Virgin Australia, Etihad was set to take the lead on both projects due to its extensive experience in designing and managing international lounges.
The airline has now gone a step further and will operate both lounges under its own brand for Etihad's first class and business class passengers, while eligible Virgin Australia travellers and frequent flyers booked on codeshare Etihad flights will also find the welcome mat rolled out.
The lounges will be modelled on Etihad’s other international lounges such as Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport (seen below), which in turn borrow their inspiration Etihad's flagship business and first class lounges in Abu Dhabi.
And if CDG is anything to go by, Etihad’s Australian travellers will be in for quite a treat.
The recently-opened Paris lounge boasts “five-star international buffet and à la carte dining”, wines chosen by a qualified sommelier and an elegant collection of original artwork to underscore the international flair, while a separate family room keeps the kids from underfoot.
The Sydney Airport lounge will be located in the western pier of the T1 international terminal, close to the gates used by Etihad flights.
Those boarding gates can also handle the Airbus A380s which Etihad will introduce to Sydney and Melbourne towards the end of 2014.
Etihad has 10 superjumbos on order with each carrying a standard three-class layout of first, business and economy.
Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we’re @AusBT
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.