Oneworld is now unlikely to open the first of its own-branded airport lounges until late 2020, although an announcement on the location of that debutante lounge could come early next year.
The airline alliance announced plans to develop its own lounge network, along the same lines as rivals Star Alliance and SkyTeam, in February 2019, with the intent of an inaugural ribbon-cutting in the second half of 2019 and two more lounge openings likely to follow in 2020.
Executive Traveller understands that Oneworld is finalising a decision on which airport will host the lounge and construction should be underway by mid-2020.
Approached for comment by Executive Traveller, Oneworld's Vice-President of Corporate Communications, Ms Ghim-Lay Yeo, said "Oneworld is in the process of discussions with multiple partners for the development of the first oneworld branded lounges. We are currently not in a position to make an announcement, but we look forward to doing so in the near future."
As with Star Alliance and SkyTeam, Oneworld's lounge network will focus on airports where it has no home carrier on its membership roster.
“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," Oneworld CEO Rob Gurney told Executive Traveller earlier this year. "So while collectivity we (as Oneworld) have a lot of flights, no single airline could justify the cost of the lounge.”
In some cases, airlines have forged ahead with their own lounges – a good example being Singapore, where Changi Terminal 1 already has three lounges operated by British Airways and Qantas, with Qatar Airways due to open its own Premium Lounge in early 2020.
“We think there’s around 15 to 30 opportunities globally which fall into that category, 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.”
In the case of Sao Paulo, the Oneworld member airlines currently flying to the Brazilian mega-hub expect to co-locate all of their domestic, regional and international operations in the new Terminal 3A, which is slated to open in mid-2021.
Likewise, Frankfurt's new Terminal 3 – expected to open in 2023 – will likely see a single Oneworld lounge shared by the ten alliance Oneworld airlines flying out of the German financial hub.
"I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that over the next 1.5-2 years, we’d be aiming for somewhere between 2-4 lounges – identified, that is, maybe not opened though," Gurney told Executive Traveller on the sidelines of the annual IATA conference in June this year.
The closest to a true Oneworld lounge that currently exists is the business class lounge at Los Angeles' Tom Bradley International Airport, which was launched as a joint project between Qantas, British Airways and Cathay Pacific and is managed by Qantas.
According to Gurney, the new 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 adds that “if there are airports that have a particularly high concentration of first class passengers” a seperate first class lounge would be considered.