As the start of international flights between Canberra, Singapore and Wellington inches closer, Canberra Airport has pulled back the curtain on the design of its new departures lounge.
Work on the gate lounge is already underway ahead of the September 21 launch of Singapore Airlines ‘Capital Express’ service, with the 2,750m2 space designed to a much higher standard than the typical departures zone, Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron tells Australian Business Traveller.
“It’s being built to a standard that is the same as an airline ‘club lounge’ (in terms of) design, furnishings and amenities” Byron says, although business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers will spend most of their time in the nearby Virgin Australia domestic lounge.
But with the facility catering for “transit passengers flying from Wellington to Singapore and returning”, Byron is keen to give them what he hopes will be the best non-lounge experience possible.
The public departure lounge includes seperate business and media zones, private meeting rooms and a variety of seating styles "ranging from formal business oriented spaces to relaxed social and private spaces", with plenty of AC outlets to recharge your tech before the flight.
Singapore Airlines is also considering creating a 'premium area' with dedicated seating near the departure gate.
Nestled towards the western end of the domestic terminal, but with the necessary customs and immigration facilities, the gate lounge will be able to accommodate up to 600 passengers.
That's a number deliberately geared to provide headroom should other airlines launch overseas routes from Canberra.
Byron and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr last month met with Shanghai-based China Eastern, which like many Asian airlines is carefully monitoring the success of Singapore Airlines' venture.
“Passenger loads to and from Singapore are looking very good” Byron says, with “significant inbound bookings from beyond Singapore, particularly China, feeding through the Singapore Airlines’ network.”
Likewise, trans-Tasman bookings are said to be very strong.
Qantas is also believed to have held discussions with Canberra Airport about launching trans-Tasman flights on the back of the shared Singapore Airlines / Virgin Australia route.
“We're always looking at new opportunities but nothing (is) planned at this time” a Qantas spokesman told Australian Business Traveller.
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