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Air NZ's New-look Lounge

Air New Zealand has launched a major upgrade program for its airport lounges with the reopening of its facility at Sydney Airport, showcasing the features and design that will be rolled out elsewhere in the network.

The initiative will cost more than NZ$40 million ($29 million), and will include new or refurbished lounges at some of the airline’s major overseas and domestic airports. A new flagship international lounge in Auckland is scheduled to open in August, with Brisbane, Queenstown and other airports to follow over the next few years. Chief Sales and Commercial Officer Cam Wallace describes this as the most extensive lounge upgrade program the airline has ever undertaken.

Air New Zealand has established a strong reputation in the industry for its lounge services. It was selected to design and manage the Star Alliance lounge at Los Angeles International Airport, which opened in 2013.

The carrier has been using a temporary lounge in Sydney – formerly occupied by another airline – for the past six months while the rebuild has been underway.

U.S.-based architectural firm Gensler helped with the LAX lounge, and was selected by Air New Zealand to upgrade its own lounges.

The end result is visually impressive. The overall look is bright and open, with a predominantly white color scheme. This will be the template for the other lounges, and in the case of Auckland, will mark a significant change from the décor of the current international facility (the new Auckland lounge is being built in a different location closer to the gate areas).

Below is an overall shot provided by the airline, followed by a few photos of some of the highlight features taken by Aviation Week during a preview tour.

Behind the main chef station is a wall-length digital screen (below), showing moving images – in this case a field of flowers wafting in the wind with a circling bee.

Air New Zealand wanted an element of “food theater” in the dining area, hence the chef station. One or two chefs will be on duty at this station, serving hot food to order. Apparently a Sunday roast has been extremely popular in the Melbourne lounge, so it will be incorporated in Sydney.

There is also the customary self-serve food bar. Most of the food preparation will be done in on-site kitchens, a first for Air New Zealand that will also be used in the new Auckland lounge. A rather impressive lighting feature over the dining area incorporates 228 hand-blown glass spheres.

The bar is another focal area. It has a “wine-wall” backed by a window, meaning you can sit at the bar and watch the action on the taxiways through the bottle display. During the day it will feature a barista coffee bar, where you can order your coffee via an app on your mobile device before you enter – a feature already offered in Auckland.

There are also self-service drink stations in the lounge, since customer research has shown that people want both options.

These are some of the chairs (below) designed for the lounge. Different areas have different seats – there are 14 seat types overall. There are several “zones” in the lounge designed for various functions, separated by low walls. The 1,500 square-meter space is able to accommodate 300 people. A few other features are a glass-walled children’s play area, and a shower/changing area with seven shower rooms.

The reception area sets the tone as you enter or exit with floor-to-ceiling screens showing time-lapse landscape videos.


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