Oneworld has chosen Moscow's Domodedovo Airport as the location for the first in a network of alliance-branded lounges, although details of when the lounge will open are yet to be revealed.
“We are excited to launch the first oneworld branded lounge at Moscow Domodedovo in this momentous year, as we celebrate the alliance’s 20th anniversary with an invigorated mission to deliver the highest levels of service and most seamless travel experience to our customers,” says Oneworld CEO Rob Gurney. “Moscow Domodedovo is the home of our member S7 Airlines, and we are thrilled that the first Oneworld branded lounge will be located at its hub.”
Oneworld is believed to have several more lounges around the world mapped out, although the timetable has slipped from when the project was announced in February 2019, when the alliance was aiming for an inaugural ribbon-cutting in the second half of 2019 with two more lounges likely to follow in 2020.
The choice of Moscow Domodedovo, which is the hub of S7 Airlines and is home to S7's flagship business class lounge, also represents a shift from Oneworld's original statement of intent about where its own lounges would be located.
Speaking to Executive Traveller in February 2019, on the sidelines of a press conference in London to mark the alliance's 20th anniversary, Gurney said the lounges would focus on airports or terminals without a home carrier which belongs to Oneworld.
“The idea is that we develop these where no single airline has a massive presence, but we have multiple airlines flying into the same airport, maybe with daily flights. So while collectivity we (as Oneworld) have a lot of flights, no single airline could justify the cost of the lounge."
Nadja Khaitova, Press Secretary for the S7 Group, told Executive Traveller that the airline plans to retain its current Moscow Domodedovo lounges, with the new Oneworld lounge "to be an additional one to welcome passengers from all our partner airlines within the Oneworld alliance."
A spokesperson for Oneworld described the lounge project as the "result of a close collaboration between the airport and Oneworld with support from S7, our member airline."
For his part, S7 Group CEO Anton Eremin has said only that "I am sure that opening of the Oneworld branded business lounge will enable us to further enhance airport passenger experience."
Interestingly, Moscow-based Total Architects lists one of its projects as an S7 Airlines Business Lounge at Domodedovo airport which is currently "under construction", but how this plays into the plans for a Oneworld business lounge remains to be seen.
More Oneworld-branded lounges to follow
In conversation with Executive Traveller earlier this year, Gurney promises the Oneworld-branded lounges will be an integrated “premium lounge with a very high quality experience” and open to business class and first class passengers as well as top-tier frequent flyers holding each member airline’s equivalent of Oneworld Emerald and Sapphire status (such as Qantas Platinum and Gold, Cathay Pacific’s Macro Polo club Gold and Diamond, and British Airways Executive Club Silver and Gold).
However, he added that “if there are airports that have a particularly high concentration of first class passengers” a seperate first class lounge would be considered.
At the time, Gurney said he believed there were "around 15 to 30 opportunities globally" for Oneworld-branded lounges, " although some of these are a long way out – some are driven by terminal development such as Sao Paulo, Beijing Daxing, Frankfurt, Paris, New York JFK and even Heathrow."
Obvious contenders for future Oneworld lounges would be airports where Oneworld member airlines are working towards 'co-location' of facilities including check-in desks and departure gates.
"Oneworld aims to bring its member airlines operating at all airports worldwide together under one roof, to smooth transfers for passengers connecting between different carriers’ flights, wherever the opportunities are available and wherever it makes sense," Gurney elaborated.
“We are working on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities at some of our most important gateways in Asia, the Americas and Europe with the aim of delivering the best experience for customers at each of these locations.”
This is likely to include Frankfurt, which hosts ten Oneworld member airlines – with the possibility of Qantas joining those ranks with non-stop Project Sunrise flights from Australia – and which will open a new Terminal 3 in 2023.
"We are in talks with other partners on additional lounges, and we hope to announce further details when we are in a position to do so," a Oneworld spokeswoman tells Executive Traveller.