Etihad Airways‘ cost-cutting drive is in full swing. They’ve cut down routes which weren’t making them money and have started watering down passenger benefits as well. After discontinuing airport transfers and closing down the London Six Senses spa, the Etihad Lounge at London Heathrow has been taken over by a lounge operator.
Etihad used to staff and operate their lounge in London Heathrow’s terminal 4. This was open to passengers flying on Etihad’s premium products as well as elite members. Jet Airways First Class passengers could also access this lounge. Now, Etihad Airways, in a bid to cut costs even further, has appointed No1 Lounges to manage this lounge, end of this week onwards.
London Heathrow is the first Premium lounge that Etihad has outsourced as a part of the airline’s plan to outsource all their global lounge operations outside Abu Dhabi. The Etihad Lounge at London Heathrow will is going to be rechristened as The House – Home of Etihad Airways and Other Leading Airlines.
This indicates to me that passengers on other airlines should be able to access this lounge in the coming days. Etihad Airways continues to stress on the fact that folks who have been eligible to use this lounge will continue to do so in the future.
What can you expect to happen? For starters, we might see the quality of food and drinks impacted. And like many contract lounges, you may be able to access this lounge for a fee. That means the lounge is going get a higher footfall. Good for the operator, not great for the guests. We also don’t know how this move would impact Jet Airways passengers.
Though disappointing, Etihad’s move comes as no surprise. The airline has been in bad shape for a while, due to a combination of factors. As the airline goes about cutting costs, it is the passenger experience that suffers. And considering how competitive other Middle East players in the premium segment, this move may miff a section of premium flyers. Maybe we will soon hear the news about Etihad being taken over by Emirates.
What are your thoughts about the latest changes in the Etihad Airways Passenger Experience?