Executive Traveller exclusive
Virgin Australia’s domestic lounges in Perth Terminal 2 and in Alice Springs will close permanently, as will the airline’s international lounge at Wellington Airport.
The closures represent almost a quarter of Virgin Australia's own-brand lounge network, which stood at 13 locations prior to COVID-19.
Confirmed today as part of Bain Capital’s plans for Virgin Australia 2.0, it’s the first concrete step that the airline has taken on the lounge front since temporarily shuttering all of its domestic lounges – and its Wellington facility – back in March.
“We’ve made the decision to close lounges in Wellington, Alice Springs and to consolidate one of the lounges in Perth,” Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah shares with Executive Traveller.
Virgin Australia consolidates its Perth lounges
Prior to the pandemic, Virgin Australia operated two public lounges at Perth domestic airport, with a flagship facility in Terminal 1 (co-located with The Club, an invitation-only lounge), and a separate, ‘regional’ lounge facility in Terminal 2.
That regional lounge offered basic amenities suited to travellers taking relatively short hops within Western Australia, but lacked features like barista-made coffee, showers, and hot buffet meals.
Under these plans, eligible Virgin Australia passengers on flights departing from Terminal 2 would be invited to visit the Terminal 1 lounge prior to their flight.
The two terminals are co-located and are connected by walkway, but passengers departing T2 would need to clear security at both T1 to access the lounge, and again at T2 to board their flight.
Virgin Australia's Wellington, Alice Springs lounges
Over in Wellington, the cosy 32-seat space was the first lounge that Virgin Australia opened overseas, and marked a change in strategy from relying upon airport lounges of other airlines and operators, after being given the boot from Air New Zealand’s lounges when that partnership ceased.
In the Red Centre, the airline’s Alice Springs lounge opened back in 2015 to better-compete with Qantas in a destination popular with government flyers, but this was not enough to justify its continued operation.
While the permanent closure of Virgin’s lounge in Alice Springs may lead some passengers towards flying Qantas – and using the Alice Springs Qantas Club – that Qantas Club was refurbished earlier this year.
This saw the lounge’s capacity boosted by 25%, and Qantas has since re-opened that lounge, among many others.
Beyond Alice Springs, Perth and Wellington, “we haven’t decided any other closures,” Scurrah affirms.