Virgin to close lounges in Perth, Wellington, Alice Springs

While it remains to be seen when Virgin's network of lounges will re-open, three lounges have made their final calls.

By Chris Chamberlin, August 5 2020
Virgin to close lounges in Perth, Wellington, Alice Springs
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.

Virgin Australia's lounge in Perth Terminal 1 will welcome all eligible domestic flyers.
Virgin Australia's lounge in Perth Terminal 1 will welcome all eligible domestic flyers.

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.

Virgin Australia's international lounge at Wellington Airport will not return.
Virgin Australia's international lounge at Wellington Airport will not return.

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.

Also read: Bain's blueprint for Virgin Australia 2.0 revealed

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 450

Is there an expectation that flights would operate from T2 in Perth? In the all-737 VA, would all operations be from T1?

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

VARA F100s would still operate from T2.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 158

Generally charter FIFO flights are out of T2 and all scheduled (included intra state VARA) flights are out of T1.

At the moment all VA flights are actually operating out of T2, with T1 domestic closed.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 259

Bain per the VA media release will be retaining VARA's F100 and A320 for the meantime.

I would assume VARA's flights will still operate from T2 (sans lounge).

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

Overall this is better than it could have been. Airports such as Cairns, Darwin and Mackay may have lost their lounges in a more brutal scenario. Hopefully they can still move toward a lounge in Hobart though this delay has been caused more by the airport than the airline itself.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1243

This is only the start.

Virgin Australia - Platinum

26 Jun 2011

Total posts 79

It's possible that ASP itself could be one of the routes cut if the PAX numbers aren't there.

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Sep 2015

Total posts 37

Was there any mention of retaining Economy X? I may have missed it.

Wonder if they'll keep their Honiara slot which I understand was heavily sub'd by Aus Gov.

Sincerely hope so!

26 May 2016

Total posts 16

Since Scurrah mentioned the possibility of new codeshare partners. I wonder if VA closing their lounge in Wellington may be because of a recommitment between them and Air NZ

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 808

It's more likely that they don't see NZ operations coming back too quickly. If they do recommence, they may prefer to use a contract lounge provider (ie Premium Plaza) rather than spend on a fairly lightly used branded lounge.

NZ

13 Aug 2016

Total posts 59

The problem being is WLG doesn't have any contract lounge's hence why VA had to build its own longe in WLG post breakup. In WLG, you have 3x NZ Lounges (Jet Domestic, Regional Domestic, International) and QF International Lounge.

In AKL, CHC, ZQN they were already using contract lounges.

Then DUD there was no lounge access post breakup.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2014

Total posts 158

I wonder if REX will open a lounge in PER T2 now

04 Jun 2018

Total posts 20

There's been a vacant lounge space in T2 since the terminal opened, you'd assume Rex would have taken that by now if they had intentions to open a lounge.

04 Jun 2018

Total posts 20

Surprised the T2 lounge for VA in Perth was still operating in the first place, Pre-COVID 99% of VA passenger flights (the 1% are Onslow flights which while chartered, are also open to RPT pax) were run out of T1 Domestic, so the lounge would have only serviced FIFO charter flights.

Of course as already stated, at present it's the exact opposite, with T1 Domestic closed since April and all VA flights operating out of T2. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

14 Mar 2017

Total posts 152

Calling WLG a Lounge is a bit of a stretch, more like a well-appointed balcony. 


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