Airlines spend up on lounges


Millions are being spent overhauling Queenstown Airport’s airline lounges.

Ground-handling firm Planebiz only opened its 75-person-capacity Manaia Lounge, chiefly for Qantas and Jetstar corporates, 18 months ago.

It’s now spent north of $1 million building a bigger lounge, with a capacity of 120 people, on a mezzanine floor above the international terminal.

The lounge is being officially opened today.

Meanwhile, Air New Zealand has taken over the old Manaia Lounge, opposite its 90-person-capacity Koru Lounge.

According to council consent documents, it’s planning a $1m refurb. The airline says that figure’s wrong - but it won’t provide the correct one.

Planebiz co-owner and director Frank Ryder, of Christchurch, says use of its lounge has at least doubled in 18 months. At busy times, it would reach capacity once a week.

“We could never have accommodated all our guests if we’d have stuck to the old lounge.”

Air NZ’s customer experience boss Renee Mateparae confirms a new regional lounge at Queenstown Airport will open later this year.

It will offer “significantly more space and seating options as well as our signature new lounge design”.

Growth at the airport is obvious to see - even before night flights started.

In the 12 months to May 2016, there were more than 1.6 million passenger movements at Queenstown Airport, up almost 18 per cent on the previous 12 months.

Ryder has nothing but praise for builders Cook Brothers, who he says were “absolutely outstanding”.

But he grumbles the build took longer than it should have because of hold-ups with council approval.

Building consent was lodged at the end of March, and was only approved two months later, after processing was contracted to Wellington mob Holmes Farsight.

Manaia is for Qantas Platinum One, Platinum and Gold Frequent Flyers and Qantas Club Members on international Qantas or Jetstar flights, as well as those with Priority Pass or Dragon Pass.

There’s also a pay-in option - $40 for up to three hours and $55 for three or more hours.