Etihad Airways says a rebranded lounge partnership at London Heathrow may a model for other facilities across its network.
The financially-troubled airline relaunched its Heathrow lounge earlier this month as “The House, Home of Etihad Airways and other leading airlines” in partnership with UK-based No. 1 lounges.
The Abu Dhabi-based carrier did not specify who the other leading airlines would be but said the collaboration would allow better utilization of the lounge and make it available to “a wider market”.
The scope of the new lounge brand “may be expanded to include other lounges,” it said.
The decision to partner with No. 1 Lounges came after a global study of leading lounge service providers and an extended request for proposal process by the airline.
Award-winning No. 1 — which has lounges in Gatwick, Heathrow, Birmingham and Edinburgh — will operate the new brand.
It will be complimentary to eligible Etihad customers, notably people traveling in premium cabins and top-tier frequent flyers, as well as those flying with codeshare partners.
The airline’s economy class passengers will also be able to buy access to the lounge as will passengers flying on other airlines using the lounge, subject to availability.
“This is an innovative development for Etihad’s international lounge offering. No1 Lounges stood out for their operational skill and expertise, and for their creative approach to Etihad’s lounge needs,’’ Etihad vice president guest experience and delivery Linda Celestino said in the announcement.
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“This new venture will enable the airline to maintain its brand presence, and at the same time enhance and improve the overall lounge experience for our premium guests. It will also provide an opportunity for our economy guests to upgrade their pre-flight experience.”
No 1 Lounge chief executive Phil Cameron said the company had worked closely with Etihad over the past year to develop a brand that complemented the airline’s in-flight service.
It had also modernized the lounge and moved to broaden its appeal.
Features include a new, white-linen dining experience and a more extensive bar service, including freshly squeezed juices and smoothies, world coffees and a more sophisticated wine list.
There are plans to reconfigure the lounge to include new lounge areas, bar, dining room, and reading room, as well as upgraded showers and prayer rooms.
Etihad also announced that it plans to boost flights between Abu Dhabi and Heathrow over Christmas with the addition of a daily Boeing 787-9 service.
The two-class aircraft featuring 28 business seats and 271 in economy will operate on the route between December 15 and January 13.
The additional flight is in addition to the airline’s three daily A380 services.