London-based No1 Lounges is pulling out of Australia, with its international lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – The House, and My Lounge – now part of Swissport’s Aspire Lounges portfolio.
Aspire is also taking over the former Virgin Australia lounge in Perth’s Terminal 2, shuttered in 2020 by then-CEO Paul Scurrah, to be operated under the Aspire brand from July as the country’s first independent lounge in a domestic terminal.
The company’s fresh international lounge in Perth’s Terminal 1 is also moving closer to launch, pending an increase in international flights from the WA capital – here’s what you need to know.
The House to stay in Sydney, Melbourne
Despite the change in ownership, Swissport confirms that ‘The House’ lounges and branding will be retained in both Sydney and Melbourne.
“The plan is to open them as soon as is feasible, but this is largely dependent on the reopening of international borders,” Swissport Australia & New Zealand’s Head of Lounges, Craig Shaw, tells Executive Traveller.
When asked whether the signature features of these lounges would also be retained – being a la carte dining and bartender service, prior to COVID-19 – Shaw would only say that “we will be reviewing and refining our offering to ensure we always deliver.”
“Historically, Priority Pass card holders have (also) had access to the Sydney and Melbourne lounges, and we would welcome the expansion across the Australian network,” he hints.
This marks the second change of ownership for these Sydney and Melbourne locations, which initially opened as Etihad Airways lounges, but were later adopted by No1 Lounges and rebranded to The House, to serve a wider variety of travellers.
Brisbane’s My Lounge up for a new title
Like The House in Sydney and Melbourne, Brisbane’s My Lounge has remained closed since Australia’s international borders were shuttered in 2020, with its return similarly expected when overseas passenger numbers climb to a suitable level.
However, it may not return as “My Lounge, home of Virgin Australia” – a title it took on when first opening in September 2019 – or even simply, “My Lounge”.
“It is expected that the My Lounge branding may be reviewed in consultation with our key stakeholders,” Shaw shares.
With Brisbane Airport’s separate Plaza Premium Lounge also dropping Priority Pass access from July 1, at a time when Swissport’s lounge will be looking for travellers and Priority Pass will be seeking a replacement, this could bode well for a swift agreement between Swissport and Priority Pass.
Virgin Australia’s former Perth T2 lounge becomes an Aspire Lounge
Virgin Australia previously offered lounge facilities in both Perth Terminal 1 (its ‘main’ lounge) and Perth Terminal 2 (its ‘regional’ lounge), but permanently closed the latter in 2020 as the airline looked to cut costs as travel demands plummeted.
That Terminal 2 space will take on a new life from July 1, reopening as an Aspire Lounge.
While the brand is yet to release images of the refreshed space, we’re told it will adopt “a new colour scheme and furnishings, as well as local imagery to bring a taste of WA to the lounge,” with Aspire providing the image below as an example.
The facility will operate from 4am to 6pm Monday to Friday, making it accessible before most flights departing Perth T2 across Alliance Airlines, Regional Express, and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines.
“We expect the majority of lounge (guests) will come from the FIFO community,” Shaw says.
When asked whether Aspire had an agreement with Virgin Australia to welcome the airline’s eligible premium passengers, Shaw hinted that such an agreement was not currently in place, but “we welcome the opportunity to partner with all of our airline partners, including Virgin Australia.”
Virgin Australia’s lounge in Perth Terminal 1 remains available to all eligible travellers, including those on flights from Perth T2 – albeit with a need to clear security a second time.
Previously: Virgin Australia closes Perth Terminal 2 lounge
Perth’s Terminal 1 Aspire Lounge gets closer
Originally set to open in 2020 but delayed due to border restrictions, the new-build Aspire Lounge in the international departures area of Perth’s Terminal 1 is also getting ready to open “later this year”: but a firm date hasn’t been pinned on the calendar just yet.
It’s “dependent on international borders,” Shaw says, adding that its eventual opening date “will be closely linked to airline schedules.”
First announced in 2019, the Perth T1 Aspire Lounge will offer panoramic views from the terminal’s upper level, opening in the place of the airport’s former observation deck.
Also read: Plaza Premium’s Sydney, Brisbane lounges return
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.