If you’ve ever been to Hong Kong, you’ve likely found yourself in one of the city’s many Priority Pass lounges. These lounges, which include the famous Pacific Place and the three-storey space at The Landmark on Exchange Square, are a popular way to unwind, relax, and have a drink after a long flight. And because the lounges are so well-loved, they tend to stay busy.
When the global pandemic of 2009 forced A-list movie stars and other celebrities to close down their private estates and other high-end facilities, it left a gaping hole in the plans of the wealthy. What would these people do? A few have suggested that they move to low-density high-rise cities, most notably Hong Kong, but that is hardly an option for the rest.
Ever since the reopening of the AirAsia’s new priority lounge at the SIN Airport in Singapore, we have received a lot of questions on how the reopening of an airline lounge is going to impact the region in the pandemic’s reopening phase. In order to understand this, lets first take a look at the importance of airline lounges in the region.
How a new Priority Pass lounge demonstrates the failure of Asia’s reopening
Gary Leff 19. June 2021 Cathay Pacific carried an average of only 774 passengers per day in May. Only about 2,000 passengers per day used the Hong Kong airport. This is only 1% of the pre-pandemic volume. As a result, Cathay Pacific only has one lounge open – The Wing First Class Lounge. (The American Express Centurion lounge remains closed). All first class, business class and elite members of oneworld sapphire and above use the same lounge. But even without the large number of passengers, the airport still has capacity. And Cathay Pacific will generate revenue with the opening of its First Class Wing Lounge on Monday the 21st. June, at Priority Pass, as One Mile at a Time reported. It’s only a first class waiting room, they’re not fully functional. For example, you can’t eat your meal at the table. But it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable lounges available through Priority Pass. It will almost certainly leave the program once traffic resumes, but the decision to receive Priority Pass revenue is another sign that travel restrictions are unlikely to be lifted any time soon. In general, many of the places that contained the virus in the early stages of the pandemic are doing very poorly in the later stages. They lag behind in vaccination and their citizens remain highly vulnerable to the virus, keeping their economies closed, even though countries more affected by the spread of the virus feel they have overcome it and are opening up again. Take the example of Taiwan, where use of the vaccine was limited because there was no major distribution of Covid-19 there. They have an epidemic, everyone wants the vaccine, and they don’t have enough supplies.
- They made a big gamble by building domestic manufacturing capacity that hasn’t been built yet, and the vaccine is an old technology that may not be as effective.
- They have had difficulties getting the vaccine in other countries of the world. For example, the German company BioNTech, which works with Pfizer, refused to sign a dosage agreement even after Taiwan agreed not to designate itself as such (recall that China has not even admitted Taiwan to the World Health Organization). The mainland Chinese company then obtained the exclusive distribution rights for the film in China. So Taiwan has to accept help from China to vaccinate its population, which is repugnant to older Taiwanese.
China itself managed to contain the virus, which was perhaps 40 times stronger than predicted, by locking people in their homes, which in some cases became tombs. While Marriott flatters President Xi for his perfect response to the pandemic, China doesn’t seem ready to open up again. Or look at Australia, where the vaccination program has failed. They took a big gamble on AstraZeneca, but without significant sales of Covid they pulled out – the risk (very modest) was hard to sell, while there was no significant risk to Covid. This puts them well behind Pfizer’s line and they hope to start vaccinating by the end of the year. Australians are still not allowed to leave the country except to travel to New Zealand, and they are prosecuted if they fly from New Zealand to a third country (although a government quarantine is mandatory on return). There is talk of a procedure whereby vaccinated Australians would be allowed to leave the country and even undergo a domestic quarantine on their return, but this is not yet realistic. Although you could say: God, how I would have loved to have been in Australia or Taiwan during the first year of the pandemic, I’m not sure most people would say the same about the second year.
Lake View from the Wing
It’s been over a week since the Priority Pass lounge at Hong Kong International Airport opened, and it looks like the world’s aviation industry is suffering from the pandemic’s re-opening. Of the 180,000 passengers that have entered the new lounge, only 700 have been using it. Even with the economies of scale, the Hong Kong lounge is a far cry from the massive lounge at Beijing International Airport, which handles over a million passengers per day.. Read more about plaza premium group and let us know what you think.
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