(eTN) – When the new Jomo Kenyatta International Airport terminal facility eventually open its doors to passengers next year, Kenya Airways will be opening two state-of-the-art lounges in Terminal Four. Presently, Kenya Airways offer two lounges at the existing terminal, however, they are distant from the boarding gates and near the main immigration facilities where arriving passengers go through passport control.
While the upstairs lounge was doubled in size a few months ago, passengers using either of the two lounges during peak traffic times know that space is at a premium in these facilities and that, food and service quality notwithstanding, they no longer can be called state-of-the-art airline lounges.
The new terminal will, however, introduce, according to information availed by a source close to the airline, the latest in premium passenger lounge quality, comprising dining areas, dedicated rest areas, shower facilities, a sauna and treatment rooms for massage, besides the “usual” amenities of comfortable arm chairs along with an array of reading materials and news channels.
The fight for premium passengers in Africa, largely dominated by the alliance affiliation of market leaders like Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, and South African Airways, the latter two being members of global market leader, Star Alliance, and the former a member of the KLM/Air France led SkyTeam, is according to some aviation experts won on the ground, as in-flight service levels and cabin layouts are all now very similar when it comes to the business class products offered.
“Lounges are becoming a key tool in the fight for market share in the premium segment of travel. Those passengers insist on state-of-the-art aircraft and great in-flight services, and we all offer that now – punctuality, superior service on check-in and when connecting through the airline hubs to onward flights – the amenities in the lounges.
“Ethiopian has taken this game to the next level when they opened the first section of their new lounge in Addis, and Kenya Airways is now almost compelled to level the playing field again. Because of the delays in completing Terminal Four it will be a bit longer until they can showcase their response to the move by their rivals, but when the new lounges are open, they will be the best available in Africa.
“The same will be the case when the next airport phase comes on line, which you call Project Greenfield. That new mega-terminal is going to be used by Kenya Airways and the alliance partners, maybe two thirds or even more of the projected space and capacity, and there the premium lounges will be even better. Kenya Airways transit traffic forms more and more the bulk of their business, and business class travelers are the ones every airline wants to attract and keep. If they are happy in the air with an airline’s product, they must be equally happy on the ground with the service they get. If there are shortcomings, they will eventually walk away and start using a rival airline. Competition is tough and such investments are as important as ordering new planes,” said a source from the Kenya Airways head office in Embakasi on condition of anonymity for not being an official spokesperson of the airline.
Recent efforts to obtain an authoritative response from the Kenya Airports Authority on the anticipated completion of the new Terminal Four, as well as reasons for the delays in opening this new facility, were unsuccessful as emails sent to the main mail portal went unanswered.