Etihad opens first premium airport lounge in Australia

The 'premium class' rivalry between airlines has officially landed on Australian shores with Etihad Airways opening its first Australian premium lounge in Sydney.

The new first and business class lounge, located at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith International Airport, is the latest addition to Etihad premium lounges worldwide and its design draws on the airline’s flagship lounges in Abu Dhabi.

Its opening follows the carrier’s recent unveiling of its new ‘residence’ class on board its Airbus A380 superjumbos. The airline’s Sydney route will be among the first in its network to offer the ‘residence’ class when its scheduled A380 services to Sydney commence in June 2015.

The Sydney lounge is spilt across two levels with the entrance and reception located on the top level and the lounge located on the lower level. According to the airline, the lounge occupies 792 square-metres and has been designed to suit business and holiday travellers’ needs. 

Lounge features include: workstations with Apple computers; free wi-fi; multi-zone electrical and USB power outlets; bathrooms with shower facilities; a play room for kids; separate male and female prayer rooms; and hand luggage storage and cloaking facilities.

Food option is a choice of restaurant-style a la carte dining and buffet dinning. Local wines, as well as other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available.

Etihad has existing premium lounges in Abu Dhabi, Dublin, Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Manchester, Paris and Washington DC. The airline plans to open premium lounges in Los Angeles, New York (JFK) and Melbourne over the next 12 to 18 months.

The Sydney lounge can be used by Etihad Airways Diamond First Class and Pearl Business Class guests, and certain members of the Etihad Guest loyalty program, as well as certain Virgin Australia members flying to Abu Dhabi. Qualifying members of codeshare and partner airlines can use the lounge when flying on Etihad Airways or Virgin Australia operated Sydney-Abu Dhabi services.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier is not alone in its pursuit of boosting its premium class passenger numbers in Australia. Earlier this year Virgin Australia opened its new Melbourne Airport lounge which has 604 seats and a dedicated stand-up wine bar. But its signature feature is an espresso bar with 24-hour barista service. The airline’s Brisbane Airport lounge, which is next on its renovation list, will also get an espresso bar.

And in December last year, Singapore Airlines opened its newly renovated SilverKris lounge at Sydney Airport. The upgrade was the first part of a $100 million update of its lounges worldwide. The airline is planning to renovate lounges at 14 other cities over the next five years, including Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Outside Australia, Qantas recently unveiled its new lounge at Hong Kong Airport.