Virgin Australia will expand its Melbourne lounge this year, and open new lounges in Canberra and Cairns, but Hobart travellers will need to cool their heels until 2014.
Canberra is up first, with not one but two lounges to open their doors in the Canberra Airport’s new Western Concourse Terminal, which is due to open on March 13.
In addition to the standard Virgin lounge for business class travellers, lounge members and Platinum and Gold cardholders in the Velocity frequent flyer scheme there’ll also be an addition to The Club network of Virgin’s invitation-only lounges for hosting politicians, top-level executives and other VIPs.
A new regional lounge in Cairns will follow in the third quarter of this year, and is likely to be based on Virgin Australia's 'regional lounge' model, similar to the airline's lounge at Mackay Airport (shown below).
The airline’s Melbourne lounge will see a “significant increase in size”, Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti tells Australian Business Traveller, “and we’ll also be adding some new facilities to it, which we want to keep quiet for now.”
“The problem with Melbourne – and it's a good problem to have – is that when we built it with 80 or 100 percent more seating capacity than the old one, we were expecting it to last us for another two or three years” Borghetti explains.
"The fact is that we're coming close to capacity during peak times, (because) demand has been so strong.”
The transformation of Sydney’s flagship lounge, which now sports an upstairs area, will take a little longer than expected, Borghetti also says.
“We've slowed the progress down because demand is such that, if we shut the lounge, we're going to turn people away for a month or so. So we're doing it in pieces, and that takes a little bit longer.”
The sad news in the schedule is that Virgin’s Hobart lounge, which was previously slated for this year, now won’t open until 2014.
“We're working with the airport authorities and it will be mid-2014”, although Borghetti joked “it could be early 2014, I always push for a bit earlier!”.
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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.