Qantas’ $100 Million Plan to Upgrade Global Lounge Network Unveiled
Thanks to a faster-than-expected recovery in domestic travel demands, Qantas is dropping AUD$100 million to upgrade its lounge network in airports both in Australia and around the world. Hailed as the most significant investment in the Qantas lounge network in over a decade, the upgrades include a new flagship first-class lounge at London’s Heathrow Airport, plus redevelopments for the existing Business Class Lounge in Sydney and Melbourne International Airport.
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According to a press release, the goal is to “significantly enhance” the airline’s network of lounges, “elevating the pre-flight and transit travel experience for customers to a new level of luxury at key destinations.” Announced two days before Qantas posted AUD$9.9 billion in revenue, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce is telling customers that despite charging a premium, “you get more value with Qantas”.
Already boasting an extensive lounge network, including 42 in Australia and nine overseas, Joyce said the national airline has “three new and upgraded lounge spaces due to open this year, and the pipeline we’re announcing today will take us through to 2025.”
It’s a pipeline headlined by a new First Lounge at London’s Heathrow Airport. Operating alongside the current International Lounge, the luxurious London First Lounge is intended to have direct access to boarding gates, expansive airport views, a focus on well-being amenities, and an unrivalled dining experience. However, all these plans are still subject to agreement with Heathrow Airport and UK regulators.
Once complete, it will be the fifth destination to offer a Qantas First Lounge, along with Los Angeles, Melbourne, Singapore, and the original Marc Newson-designed First Lounge in Sydney. The planned launch date will coincide with the first Project Sunrise non-stop long-haul travel flights straight to Sydney from London and New York aboard Qantas’ new fleet of A350 aircraft with dedicated Wellbeing Zones designed for movement, stretching and hydration.
“Millions of people a year visit our lounges, and they are typically our frequent flyers who travel with us the most,” said Joyce. “Anything we do to improve them is a way of saying thank you to our most loyal customers.”
Also in the works is the re-opening of a refreshed Hong Kong International Lounge, a complete refurbishment and expansion of the International Business Lounge in Sydney, an updated and expanded International Business Lounge in Melbourne, a new Hobart Qantas Club and a new Broome Regional Lounge with double the seats! The significant focus on modernising Australian lounges can be attributed to increasing domestic operational profits. The number of flights reached 94% of the group’s pre-pandemic flying capacity, up from 86% in the second half of last year.
“Being back in profit means we’re back to making long-term investments for our customers. That started with the major aircraft order we announced last year, and now we’re building on that with a major investment in our lounges,” said Joyce.
Domestic Aussie travellers (and tourists) will see the Qantas Business Class Lounge at Melbourne International Airport refreshed with an expanded footprint that will increase capacity by up to 30% to accommodate future passenger growth. The redevelopment of the Business Class Lounge at Sydney International Airport, which was paused during the pandemic, will increase capacity by 40% to more than 600 seats. Plus, a new signature food and beverage offering for Qantas customers in Melbourne and Sydney.
Also in the works is a proposed relocation into a new Hobart Qantas Club with increased capacity from 96 to 150 seats and a new Regional Lounge in Broome with 100 seats, instead of the previous 49, following “consistently strong demand from premium leisure travellers to the destination.” In light of the billion-dollar profits and lounge network updates, Alan Joyce said, “the ‘Spirit of Australia’ should not be about making a sly buck at everyone else’s expense”. Joyce’s comments have sparked furore from the general public, however, with many in the media suggesting Qantas’ massive profits were the result of exorbitant airfares offered at the height of a cost-of-living crisis.
Whether or not the revenue and profit figures result in cheaper airfares for Qantas customers seems to be a question for the broader airline industry, which now includes Bonza, Australia’s ‘Bogan’ Budget Airline. With domestic seat capacity tipped to reach 100 per cent by June, the hope is international seat capacity will also recover, putting downward pressure on ticket prices.
For now, we’ll just have to hope we score one of those 500,000 free flights to visit Hong Kong in 2023. Oh, and if you’re a fan of decadent first-class airline lounges, check out Eiffel Tower views and dual dining options at the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, the airlines’ fifth international lounge. You can view images of the first upgrade Qantas lounge in Auckland below.