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With Emirates axing its remaining Airbus A380 flights between Australia and Auckland (Melbourne and Brisbane are on the chopping block as of March 25, 2018) and Qantas boosting its trans-Tasman flights to fill the capacity gap, the fate of both airline's Auckland lounges comes into sharp relief.
After all, travellers will typically spend close to two hours in the Qantas or Emirates lounge before their flight compared to not much more than three hours in the air – making the airport lounge a key component of the journey.
Will Emirates close its Auckland lounge?
But by the end of March 2018 Emirates will have only one flight out of Auckland – the daily Airbus A380 to Dubai – compared to the four Auckland superjumbo flights it boasted earlier this year (before the Gulf carrier pulled the plug on its Sydney-Auckland service).
Is one flight enough to support Emirates keeping its Auckland lounge open, staffed and serving food and drink for just three hours a day?
By the same token, with Qantas ramping up its flights across the pond – including seven new Melbourne-Auckland return flights per week plus an extra two Brisbane-Auckland return flights per week – the airline will be funnelling many more passengers into its own Auckland lounges.
(While savvy Qantas business class travellers and Gold and Platinum-grade frequent flyers know that they can also use Emirates' superior Auckland lounge under the terms of the Qantas-Emirates alliance – the superior food plus Veuve Clicquot Champagne are solid drawcards – in our experience the vast majority of Qantas passengers always default to the Qantas lounge.)
Qantas still to make a move
However, Qantas' Auckland lounges are the weak link in the trans-Tasman chain. Old, tired and well-worn, they're generally regarded by travellers as among the worst in the airline's international network – and long overdue for an upgrade.
Almost two years back Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce confirmed that the Auckland lounge was on the to-do list – with the aim of transforming it into "the best lounge in New Zealand."
"We have Auckland on the plan, it's a question of when we'll do it" Joyce told Australian Business Traveller in November 2015. "We'd like to have the best lounge in NZ, but these things take time."
Joyce added that a new Qantas Auckland lounge would be "like the other (international) lounges," ditching today's separate first class and business class lounges for a single-class 'premium' space similar to Qantas' international lounges in Brisbane, Singapore, Hong Kong and soon London.
The clock should be ticking on Qantas' new Auckland lounge, but a spokesperson for the airline tells Australian Business Traveller there's nothing to announce as this stage.
Earlier this week Australian Business Traveller also approached Emirates for clarity on the fate of its Auckland lounge, but the airline was unable to respond by the time this story was published.