Virgin Australia will reopen exclusive The Club lounges in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne under another name next year but not in the nation’s capital or for high-flyers in Perth.
There had been doubts about whether the airline would reopen the invitation-only lounges after Virgin relaunched as a mid-market carrier focused mainly on small to medium enterprises, leisure travelers and people visiting friends and relatives.
The Club concept was launched under previous Virgin boss John Borghetti as an alternative to the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge as part of a push to gain a bigger share of corporate and government flyers.
While the Canberra decision may raise some eyebrows, the move to reopen the lounges in the big three East Coast cities making up the “golden triangle” will be welcomed by the airline’s most frequent travelers.
According to the airline, the Canberra and Perth lounges were the victims of high operating costs and low patronage.
“Unfortunately, while Canberra and Perth are a really important part of the Virgin Australia network, standalone premium lounges in these airports are not commercially feasible and regrettably they will not re-open,’’ said Virgin Australia Group chief commercial officer Dave Emerson.
“We are currently exploring some fantastic options to provide a premium service dedicated to our most loyal members traveling through these cities, and of course, they will continue to have access to our domestic lounges in these airports.”
The decision to reopen the elite lounges when premium demand warrants came after an extensive review and consultation with its elite frequent flyers that included written responses, survey results and dedicated feedback sessions.
The expectation is that the lounges, closed since March last year, will reopen under a fresh brand by the end of the first quarter of 2022.
“Overwhelmingly, 95 percent of these frequent flyers said they would recommend the Club loyalty program to their friends or colleagues and that really demonstrates just how important the program is in our business eco-system going forward, particularly with our corporate and government clients,’’ Emerson said, noting the airline was committed to listening to its customers.
“Therefore, we are going to re-open premium lounges in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane by the end of the first quarter of 2022, when we expect that business travel demand will have recovered.
“And with Virgin Australia corporate airfares now up to 67 percent cheaper than our competitor, it’s going to be hard for any business leader to consider traveling with another airline.”