Hong Kong Airlines (HX) has revealed its new VIP lounge, located in the Midfield Concourse of Hong Kong International Airport, is due to open in September.
In an interview with Business Traveller Asia-Pacific, the airline’s COO Ben Wong revealed details about the new facility, which will be double the size of the current “Club Bauhinia” in Terminal 1.
The new lounge will be divided into zones, with one side open to views of the runway.
Shared areas will feature a modern design aesthetic with references to Hong Kong including photos of the city’s development, and high-tech equipment such as Apple Macs and fast wifi.
Artistic rendering of the new lounge in HKIA’s Midfield Concourse
Meanwhile, a number of VIP rooms will be equipped with the latest audio-visual technology so business travellers can conduct small meetings or conference calls while they are in transit. Rest areas will also be available with shower facilities.
Special attention will be paid to the food offering, which will reflect traditional Hong Kong street food, with an onsite chef cooking up local favourites like egg waffles and noodles.
Near to the lounge is a large balcony terrace, provided by the Airport Authority, giving smokers a more pleasant area than the current rooms in the main airport terminals.
Wong said the new lounge was a gamble, but believes the hard work has paid off: “As with any new terminal, it was a bit of a risk. There will always be a lack of shops, a lack of facilities. But we’ve cooperated with the airport and now we’re very happy with the decision.”
Hong Kong Airlines has about 90 percent of its flights now routed through the Midfield Concourse and served by an air bridge, while the others require a shuttle bus ride to the tarmac. As part of its ongoing relationship with the airport authority, it hopes to eliminate the need for this completely.
The new lounge is part of Hong Kong Airlines’ ultimate ambition to become a “global, full-service hub-to-hub” airline, revealed Wong.
Currently operating a fleet of 30 modern Airbus aircraft, the airline expects to have more than 50 aircraft by 2018 – including three A350s due to be delivered next year.
Until now the airline has focused on developing a strong regional network – particularly targeting underserved destinations such as Malaysia’s Kuching, popular Japanese business and tourist destinations and mainland China – as a strategic move to build up feeder services for future expansion.
This year the airline launched a triangular Australian service to the Gold Coast and Cairns and also announced services to Auckland scheduled for November 10.
Moving forward, the airline has its sights set on North America. HX launched flights to Saipan on July 6, which Wong referred to as “a stepping stone for flying to North America”. He revealed the company is close to completing work on compliance issues, such as homeland security and TSA requirements, and once clear, intends to launch services to the west coast.
“With our wide-body A350 coming [next year], we will be adding long-haul destinations. Flying to the US is one of the milestones we have, it’s quite a complicated process, but for sure we will be adding US points,” he said.
In addition to increased long-haul connections, the airline plans to court business class customers with a range of improved service offerings, from installing onboard wifi to personalised greetings for high-tier Fortune Wings Club members.
Another highlight is the extension of its popular “Air Pass” service, with Tokyo and Auckland set to be added to the programme.
The initiative, launched in 2014, is designed to provide maximum flexibility to passengers – allowing bundles of confirmed tickets to be bought for key business destinations, with last-minute name or date changes allowed at no extra fee.
“This is popular with small businesses and also big corporations. Often, they have a lot of work in China and have to send people regularly – we can offer confirmed business tickets with quality standards and the flexibility for them to change at the last minute. Normally airlines will not accommodate changes at the last minute without incurring a fine.
“To attract business travellers, we have to really understand their needs, so flexibility is one way, but at the same time we would like to provide quality service products.”