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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