Bloomberg News

Frankfurt Airport VIP Lounge Counters Gulf Hubs, Tops Lufthansa

May 22, 2014

Frankfurt Airport's Luxury VIP Terminal 1 Lounge

Chairs sit in front of a window at Frankfurt Airport's luxury VIP Terminal 1 lounge in Frankfurt. Photographer: Richard Weiss/Bloomberg

Frankfurt airport will charge more than 300 euros ($410) for entry to a luxury lounge open to passengers from all airlines as Europe’s third-busiest hub seeks to boost its appeal to premium flyers.

The lounge aims to lure those with time on their hands between flights with an offer of fine food, unlimited champagne, beds, showers and smoking facilities, as well as a limousine ride to the plane and all check-in formalities.

Frankfurt is upgrading its premium product while vying with fast-growing Gulf hubs for transfer traffic on which it’s more reliant than airports in the bigger cities of London and Paris. The Terminal 1 lounge, which opens May 26, measures 1,200 square meters (13,000 square feet) and was used by Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) -- which has a separate first-class facility -- before being returned to airport owner Fraport AG.

“We’re aiming at wealthy people from Russia, Asia and the Middle East, as well as politicians, board members and business people,” Fraport Chief Financial Officer Matthias Zieschang said in an interview. The facility will also cater to private jet customers using the general aviation terminal at the south of the airport who prefer a more pampered level of service.

People prepared to pay the entry fee of 298 euros plus tax will gain access to a facility that Fraport reckons surpasses benchmarks like the British Airways Concorde Room at London Heathrow and would merit more than five stars were it a hotel.

Chrome Weights

The lounge, which Zieschang said cost “several million euros” to equip, will feature valuable oil paintings, bathrooms clad floor-to-ceiling in marble tiles, wallpaper inspired by Asian temples and Hawaiian folklore and a gym with chrome weights and an 8,000-euro carbon race bike on rollers. Beds feature wolf skin-style throws and leopard-print pillows.

“We wanted to top what’s currently being offered at the top lounges,” he said. “The Russians like the harder kind of gym stuff, they don’t want yoga. That’s why we have boxing gloves and an Everlast sandbag, the kind Muhammad Ali used.”

Zieschang said the facility is unlikely to draw premier passengers from Lufthansa, whose top lounge -- featuring a hot tub but with no gym and a more sober interior -- is open only to its own first-class passengers and those from subsidiary Swiss, plus the highest-status “Hon-Circle” loyalty-program members.

“We see this as complimentary to our offerings, which are tied to frequent-flier status and the ticket you hold, not an entry fee,” Lufthansa spokesman Klaus Gorny said. “Our offer is very good already and we welcome any top-notch service.”

Fraport has previously clashed with Lufthansa over premium passengers, attributing its failure to meet a retail-revenue goal to the German carrier channeling too few high-spending Asian passengers through a new pier featuring top-end shops.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Weiss in Frankfurt at rweiss5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at bkammel@bloomberg.net Christopher Jasper


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