The Oneworld alliance will open its own network of Oneworld-branded airline lounges at key airports around the world, with an inaugural ribbon-cutting in the second half of 2019 and two more lounges likely to follow in 2020.
Oneworld hasn't revealed which airport will host that debutante lounge, but alliance CEO Rob Gurney tells Australian Business Traveller that several airports are in contention “and in the middle of this year we will be announcing the first Oneworld lounge.’
“We’ve actually got three we are pursuing, we just haven’t decided what the first one is going to be – it could be any one of those.”
Speaking to Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of a press conference in London to mark the alliance's 20th anniversary, Gurney said the lounges would focus on airports or terminals without a home carrier which belongs to Oneworld.
“The idea is that we develop these where no single airline has a massive presence, but we have multiple airlines flying into the same airport, maybe with daily flights,” Gurney explains. “So while collectivity we (as Oneworld) have a lot of flights, no single airline could justify the cost of the lounge.”
“We think there’s around 15 to 30 opportunities globally which fall into that category, although some of these are a long way out – some are driven by terminal development such as Sao Paulo, Beijing Daxing, Frankfurt, Paris, New York JFK and even Heathrow.”
Oneworld’s rollout would be similar to the approach adopted by competing alliances Star Alliance and SkyTeam.
The closest that currently exists is a business class lounge at Los Angeles' Tom Bradley International Airport which was launched as a joint project between Qantas, British Airways and Cathay Pacific, and is managed by Qantas.
Gurney tells Australian Business Traveller that the Oneworld-branded lounges will be an integrated “premium lounge with a very high quality experience” and open to business class and first class passengers as well as top-tier frequent flyers holding each member airline’s equivalent of Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire status (such as Qantas Platinum and Gold, Cathay Pacific’s Macro Polo club Gold and Diamond, and British Airways Executive Club Silver and Gold).
However, he adds that “if there are airports that have a particularly high concentration of first class passengers” a seperate first class lounge would be considered.
Obvious contenders for future Oneworld lounges will be airports where Oneworld member airlines are working towards 'co-location' of facilities including check-in desks and departure gates.
"Oneworld aims to bring its member airlines operating at all airports worldwide together under one roof, to smooth transfers for passengers connecting between different carriers’ flights, wherever the opportunities are available and wherever it makes sense," Gurney explains.
“We are working on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities at some of our most important gateways in Asia, the Americas and Europe with the aim of delivering the best experience for customers at each of these locations.”
This includes Sao Paulo, where all five Oneworld members currently flying to the Brazilian mega-hub expect to co-locate all of their domestic, regional and international operations in the new Terminal 3A, which is slated to open in mid-2021.
Also on that list would be Frankfurt, where the new Terminal 3 – expected to open in 2023 – will likely see a single Oneworld lounge shared by the ten alliance Oneworld airlines flying out of Frankfurt.
David Flynn travelled to London as a guest of Qantas and Oneworld.