Sydney Airport lounge update: Virgin Australia/Etihad, Singapore Airlines, MAS

Sydney Airport lounge update: Virgin Australia/Etihad, Singapore Airlines, MAS

From a new shared Virgin Australia / Etihad shared lounge to a renovation Singapore Airlines and perhaps even a closure from Malaysia Airlines, here's the latest on Sydney Airport lounges in 2013.

Virgin Australia / Etihad's shared lounge

This one's been on the cards for some time, with an "early 2013" date flagged when we spoke with the Abu Dhabi-based airline in June this year, to be followed by a similar lounge at Melbourne Airport.

The lounges will be built and operated as a joint venture between Virgin Australia and partner airline Etihad to host first class and business class travellers and high-status frequent flyer passengers.

Neither airline has its own facility at Australia's busiest airport, currently relying instead of Air New Zealand's Koru Club lounge.

But for now, it seems that space – particularly the right space – is the final frontier.

"Space at Sydney, you will know, is challenging – finding the right space for it" admits Calum Laming, who heads up the 'guest experience' team at Etihad.

Design? Think "boutique hotel/private members' club"

"We won't just take any old space" Laming tells Australian Business Traveller. "We need the right space that's going to work for us and our level of what we want to achieve." 

"For us it's about achieving this boutique hotel-stroke-private members' club area, and it's got to have that feeling."

"We've held back from other airports because the space wasn't right. We don't want a space that doesn't have windows."

Laming reveals that he's already knocked back such a space at Melbourne Airport – a downstairs lounge located beneath the terminal, with a view of the baggage carts going past.

"They offered us the space but it's just not right for our brand."

Singapore Airlines: Sydney's SilverKris makeover

Singapore Airline's Sydney lounge is first on the list for an ambitious new design which will be subsequently rolled out to all SQ lounges worldwide, as part of a $20 million five-year investment in the SilverKris programme.

The lounge is scheduled to showcase the new look, crafted by Singapore-based architectural and interior design firm ONG&ONG, around the middle of 2013.

A Singapore Airlines spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller that "the plans are still on track for mid-2013, however as negotiations are still underway we are unable to advise the likely timelines for renovations."

The work is expected to require closure of the SilverKris lounge for several months, during which time Singapore Airlines will make "alternative arrangements" for its passengers.

Malaysia Airlines: some international Golden Lounges may close

With Malaysia Airlines joining the oneworld alliance on 1 February 2013, the airline is considering closing some of its international lounges now that travellers will have access to the facilities of oneworld partners.

"We have not made a decision yet" MAS PR spokesman Anbarasu Sundram told Australian Business Traveller when asked if MAS would retain or close its Golden Lounges in ports where there are equivalent oneworld lounges.

"Once we have decided on the lounge status, not only in Sydney but also in other international locations where we have our own lounges and that of our oneworld alliance partners, we will inform all our stakeholders."

MAS currently maintains first class and business class lounges at Sydney, but could conceivably close these and direct passengers to the excellent Qantas First and Qantas Business lounges – including  Platinum and Gold members of its Enrich frequent flyer scheme, which respectively equate to Qantas Platinum and Gold, and oneworld Emerald and Sapphire.

MAS also has business lounges at Melbourne, Perth and Singapore along with First and Business lounges at London Heathrow T1.

When Australia Business Traveller asked Etihad's Calum Laming if his airline might consider Sydney Airport's Malaysia Airlines space for the Etihad/Virgin Australia lounge, he quashed the suggestion with an instant and firm "no."

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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.
 

14 comments

  • Al Glidden

    AlG

    18 Dec, 2012 11:15 am

    Virgin/Etihad lounge: can't wait! Sounds pretty impressive, that boutique / private members club atmosphere. But can't see this will be ready by 'early 2013' if they have not even found the space yet! Maybe 'late 2013' will be more realistic.

    MAS: sounds like a smart move to me. Why have your own lounges when you can share those of an alliance partner especially when they are hometown 'flagship' lounges like QF in Sydney and BA in London?

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  • TheRealBabushka

    TheRealBabushka

    18 Dec, 2012 11:35 am

    MH operates out of T4 at LHR. BA lounges are in T3 and T5 only. I doubt MH will close their LHR lounge unless they pick up and move to T3.

    MH operates out of Tom Bradley. Whose lounge do they use there?

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  • TheRealBabushka

    TheRealBabushka

    18 Dec, 2012 11:44 am

    Correction: BA operates out of T1 too. Does anyone know if the former BD lounge has been "Galleried" up?

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  • Craig Dennington

    cdinoz

    18 Dec, 2012 12:24 pm

    The T1 Lounge was still very much BD when I flew through in October / November. The only difference is now it has the BA bought wines and nibbles. 

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  • Craig Dennington

    cdinoz

    18 Dec, 2012 12:26 pm

    With BA moving and juggling at LHR recently, once MAS joins OW, I would expect them to move to T3? BA are after all moving their SIN flights from T3 to T5 once the QF JV ends, so T3 can have the additional slot? 

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  • MattStevenson

    MattStevenson

    18 Dec, 2012 11:52 am

    Would be nice is MAS closed the PER lounge and Virgin took it over, I guess they could share it with NZ? But I guess with the big terminal developments at the moment something may be in the pipeline.

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  • Craig Dennington

    cdinoz

    18 Dec, 2012 12:22 pm

    Well, thats an  easy one.... MAS to close their SYD lounge, share with QF and OW existing lounges - and flog the space off to Virgin / Etihad?

    However, the louge might get crowded with QF11 as a 3pm Depart, CX100, QF7 and then MH122 all slated for a 3.30pm departure, plus early arrivals at the lounge for BA16, QF5....

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  • David Flynn

    David

    18 Dec, 2012 01:25 pm

    We've updated the article with an additional quote from Etihad's Calum Laming:

    Australia Business Traveller asked Etihad's Laming if his airline might consider Sydney Airport's Malaysia Airlines space for the Etihad/Virgin Australia lounge, a suggestion which he quashed with an instant and firm "no."

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  • am

    am

    18 Dec, 2012 03:04 pm

    Not sure where Virgin/Etihad are going to find space at Sydney unless they spend big and build above the terminal (like Qantas did for the First lounge). The MH lounge is pretty small/awkward, so it's no surprise to see them turn that space down.

    SQ's plan doesn't really make sense to me. I'd have thought a partnership with NZ to expand their existing lounge and create a Star Lounge would have worked better. Or they could have passed their space across to VA/EY to create a new lounge (perhaps with an extension) and then utilised it as a partner lounge.

    It will be interesting to see what the future holds for EK/Qantas as well. The EK space would be excellent for VA/EY, but there's no way the existing QF lounges can absorb all of Emriates' traffic.

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  • TheRealBabushka

    TheRealBabushka

    18 Dec, 2012 05:07 pm

    Good point @am! I almost forgot!

    So conversely, with the EK/QF tie up, will the lovely QF First class lounges at SYD and MEL stay open into the night to cater for the evening departures on EK?

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  • Str8Talking

    Str8Talking

    18 Dec, 2012 06:58 pm

    Once LHR T2 opens in 2014 and all Star Alliance airlines move out of T3, then I imagine there will be a lot more work done to cater for OneWorld airlines and that will probably be the time for MAS to decide whether to share other OneWorld lounges or have their own.  I think there are at least 3 Star Alliance lounges in T3?  Granted, Delta wants to move in with Virgin at T3 but there should still be a lot more room to manoeuvre for OneWorld.  Coincidentally Emirates is also in T3.  I would rather see all non-allied airlines move to T4, but I guess in some ways, Emirates and Qantas are a mini alliance.

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  • mb68

    mb68

    1 Feb, 2013 02:10 pm

    Anyone who has used the MH lounge in Melbourne will probably have a sigh of relieve if QF Business lounge is used instead. There is no natural light in this lounge  with the windows that are there, are closed with timber shutters , I suppose so you dont see the catering trucks and bagage go past continuously.

    I do hope though that staff are re employed into other lounges.

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  • Sophie Paterson

    soph_paterson

    13 Apr, 2013 09:04 pm

    Any updates as to when the Etihad/Virgin lounge will be completed?

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  • David Flynn

    David

    13 Apr, 2013 10:04 pm

    We were recently told this is now an "open by December" project...

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12 Dec, 2018 07:52 am

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