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August 05, 2014

DFW Airport considering spending $1.2 million on a study of international premium lounges

DFW Airport Club lounge

Dallas/Fort Worth Airport may spend up to $1.2 million with a consultant to study international premium travel lounges and if the airport should add one at Terminal D.

The contract, with L.E.K. Consulting, was approved on Tuesday by the airport’s concessions committee but still needs to be approved by the full board on Thursday. The firm would study other international customer lounge offerings at global airports and evaluate possible partners to run a premium lounge at DFW.

“One of the things that comes through very clearly from the foreign flag carriers is while our current lounge offering is competitive from a domestic standpoint, it is absolutely not competitive from an international and global perspective,” said DFW Airport chief executive Sean Donohue at the meeting. “We really absolutely have to step up our game.”

With new carriers from the Persian Gulf and Australia and new flights to Asia, the airport is serving more international first class and business customers. Those numbers are expected to grow as Qantas Airways and Emirates Airline both add the double-decker A380 on its routes in the fall. The airport’s current lounges are running close to capacity and do not have the same amenities available at other international airports, said Sharon McCloskey, the airport’s vice president of marketing.

Premium lounges at other global airports offer massage services, manicures and private sleeping areas. Emirates’ premium lounge at its hub airport in Dubai also has a cigar bar and wine cellar.

Board member Bernice Washington questioned the cost of the contract which also includes a section where L.E.K. will negotiate marketing agreements or airline partnerships if the airport chooses to add another premium lounge.

Donohue assured her that the initial forecast shows that a new lounge would be financially beneficial to the airport.

DFW Airport has several lounges in Terminal D that serve first class and business passengers, but they are usually airline-specific like American Airlines’ Admirals Club near gate D24. The airport currently has the Club at DFW that offers free food and beverages, shower facilities and Internet connectivity for a daily pass fee to travelers and the Centurion Lounge which is available for American Express cardholders.

-Andrea Ahles

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