Air New Zealand CEO Chris Luxon has moved to re-assure travellers that the trans-Tasman alliance between Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand will remain in place despite a messy boardroom bust-up between the two airlines.
“We have a multifaceted relationship with Virgin, and the shareholding has always been very seperate from the alliance” Luxon told Australian Business Traveller at a meeting of Star Alliance airline CEOs in Zurich.
“Both airlines are very committed to the alliance, and we’re really committed to making that work even further.”
The partnership, which helped both carriers take on Qantas on what is Australia's most popular international route, sees Virgin and AirNZ sharing flights between Australia and New Zealand, while also providing select Virgin Australia flyers with access to the Kiwi carrier's lounges and status recognition such as additional luggage allowances and priority check-in and boarding.
Luxon's comments come as the Kiwi carrier prepares to sell part or all of its 25.9% stake in Virgin Australia.
New Melbourne lounge on the way
Luxon expects the Melbourne lounge will be open before the end of this year, “so by the time that’s done we’re in pretty good shape.”
“We’d like to keep looking at what we can in Perth, obviously our services have expanded, but it often depends on what’s going on in the airport master plan environments.”
“We’ve got $100m for lounge upgrades over the next few years” Luxon continues. “We’re about to kick off Fiji and there’s still a lot more to do in domestic New Zealand, so we want to go through our whole network and get all those lounges upgraded.”
Also on the radar is inflight Internet, with AirNZ soon to finalise the specific satellite technology to be used and draw up a rollout schedule for its launch of sky-high WiFi.
David Flynn travelled to Zurich as a guest of Star Alliance
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