18 AUGUST 2014

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Article from BTNews 18 AUGUST 2014

COMMENT: Terminal 5 a monopoly

Elsewhere in this week’s Business Travel News you will read of the arrival of a new facility at Heathrow Terminal 5 by Regus, the office service provider.  It is situated in Arrivals, that is landside, on the first floor and clearly indicated.  Take the red lift from where you come out of Customs.  It is a fine initiative and we wish them well.

What it does not do is break the British Airways monopoly when it comes to executive lounges within the departure area.

If you need the facilities provided by a private area in all the other terminals you have a choice of commercially created offerings (Number One Lounge, Plaza Premium and Servisair) and alternatively those provided by your air carrier assuming you meet the access requirements.  Air France is now offering the general public the use of its fine two-floor lounge in T4 for a £25 fee.  A couple of drinks and some food will cost you more in the main T4 area. No free newspapers either.  You do not even have to fly on Air France. (see BTN 14 July)

In T5 if you are not a passenger in Club World (or eligible in some way) there is just nowhere to do some work.  Yes, there is free wi-fi for a limited period but nowhere (without using a restaurant) to sit down and tap at your laptop.  Of the T5 users probably 80% are flying World Traveller (Economy) and particularly within Europe many are travelling for work purposes.  But they do not meet the requirements for BA lounge access, nor have the use of an alternative supplier.

British Airways will probably say that since they do not run the terminal (it is operated by Heathrow Air Holdings Ltd (HAH) the facilities available are nothing to do with them.  But they would say that, wouldn’t they?

The answer is simple.  HAH should put T5 airside executive provision out for tender.  BTN understands that a specialist lounge operator is about to announce a T4 contract.  Space can be created and one alternative would be to contract out the current BA Galleries Lounge North, the argument being that the two-level facility at the southern extremity is big enough.  In the meantime BA should copy Air France and make the lounges available to all.  It will generate revenue too (and help to assist with Iberia, which is the other airline in T5).

Something to think about Heathrow and British Airways?

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