Air New Zealand’s new regional lounge at Auckland Airport – three times bigger than the old one – will open to customers this weekend.
The new lounge, which has been under construction since October last year, will open on Saturday, catering for up to 265 passengers.
It’s located on Level 1 of the Auckland Airport domestic terminal, above the airline’s old regional lounge, and has wide views out over the runway.
The new Auckland regional lounge is part of a $60 million investment in lounges throughout New Zealand during the next two years.
This includes a refurbishment of the airline’s domestic lounges at Auckland and Wellington airports and new regional lounges in Nelson and New Plymouth.
Lounges around the country have been under pressure as Koru membership grows and more passengers can access them through Airpoints balances.
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House of Travel commercial director Brent Thomas said the old regional lounge at Auckland had been frustrating for some passengers because it was too small and the new one looked great and would provide a level of service that customers have expected given the price they pay for Koru membership.
”Just because someone is travelling from Napier to Auckland on a regular basis shouldn’t mean that they’re missing out on half the services in the regional part. It has to have certain minimum standards.”
A new valet service area has also been constructed as part of the Auckland project.
The integrated design features a new and expanded undercover drop-off zone directly below the lounge, providing valet customers with an easy transition from the drop-off area to the lounge and to regional departure gates.
Air New Zealand chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod said it was fantastic to open such an expansive new space.
“Our regional lounge at Auckland Airport has always been extremely popular with both business and leisure travellers, so it’s great to be able to welcome customers to this brand-new space and have it up and running ahead of the busy summer travel period.”
Different zones in the lounge include a bar/barista, buffet and light refreshments, a self-service drinks station, as well as business, lounge and quiet areas.
Thomas said lounges allowed business travellers in particular to fully utilise their day.
”We all know that we have to get to the airport well in advance of our flights and, to make it productive time, people use those lounges to work in and often with those late flights it’s the place where you have that meal before you get home.”
Demand for regional lounge space at Air New Zealand will grow as it adds hundreds more regional flights to its schedule at the start of next year following the withdrawal of Jetstar’s regional services.
The airline announced this week it will operate an additional 586 one-way flights from January to March on services it operates between Auckland and Napier, New Plymouth, Nelson and Palmerston North, as well as between Nelson and Wellington.
Air New Zealand announced late last month it would be adding an extra 253 one-way services on the same routes in December, reflecting an increase of more than 15,500 extra seats in that month alone.
Air New Zealand acting chief executive Jeff McDowall says the airline has been working hard to look at how best to utilise its turboprop aircraft and crew to support routes impacted by Jetstar’s withdrawal.
Jetstar is continuing its main trunk jet operations here but will stop regional operations from December 1.
About 20,000 passengers are booked on flights beyond that time and they would be offered full refunds and Air New Zealand is offering seat-only fares for the same route on the same day (schedule permitting) for no more than $50 each way.
Jetstar has been flying to Napier, Nelson, New Plymouth and Palmerston North for the past four years and its presence has been important for pulling down the cost of notoriously high fares on regional routes.