Star Alliance continues to open branded lounges in key markets where no member carriers have a main hub.

The global airline alliance opened its eighth branded lounge at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands this week.

“Premium lounges are one of our main targets. We don’t compete with home carriers, like Lufthansa in Frankfurt or United in Chicago where the member carriers operate their own main lounges,” Star Alliance VP-customer experience Christian Draeger told ATW on the sidelines of the March 7 opening ceremony in Amsterdam.

In total, 16 Star Alliance member carriers serve Amsterdam, providing service to 23 destinations in 18 countries on 330 daily flights. Eight carriers depart from the Schengen area, where the lounge is located.

Amsterdam is a SkyTeam alliance hub with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines as the local carrier.

“I can imagine a double-digit number of branded Star Alliance lounges worldwide in the future,” Draeger said. “For example, we may look into Asia, like Guangzhou [China].” He said Star may also consider lounges in the non-Schengen area in Rome or Amsterdam as a next step.

“But to do so, we need a critical mass of passengers that this investment makes sense. The minimum target is around 60,000 guests per lounge, per year,” he said.

Star Alliance’s existing branded lounge in Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Airport will be refurbished over the coming months.

Draeger said worldwide 2 to 2.5 million passengers  use Star Alliance lounges annually.

The 610 sq m (6,566 sq. ft.) Amsterdam lounge is located airside in the Departures 2, Schengen Area on the Panorama terrace level. Easy access is provided to the departure gates for alliance member flights to European destinations in the Schengen zone. The lounge can accommodate around 150 guests.

Star Alliance partnered with Aspire Netherlands (a Swissport company)—developer and operator of the adjacent common-use Aspire Lounge—and Royal Schiphol Group to create the first dedicated alliance lounge at the airport.

“This Star Alliance lounge represents close to a €6 million ($6.76 million) investment for us,” Swissport CEO Menno Biersma told ATW.

“We expect about 90,000 guests in this lounge per year,” Biersma said.

Swissport operates 41 lounges in 14 countries worldwide. In 2018, the company served 5.1 million guests in its lounges and plans to double the number of lounges to 80 within five years.

In addition to Amsterdam, Star Alliance also has branded lounges in Buenos Aires (Argentina); Los Angeles (California); Nagoya (Japan); Paris CDG (France); Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Rome Fiumicino (Italy) and São Paulo Guarulhos (Brazil).

Overall, the Star Alliance network offers more than 18,800 daily flights to 1,317 airports in 193 countries.

Amsterdam Airport handled 71 million passengers in 2018, Royal Schiphol Group CCO Andre van den Berg said.

Kurt Hofmann, hofmann.aviation@netway.at