Etihad to open lounges to economy class passengers for a fee

Etihad is to open up its lounges to economy class passengers for a fee. (AFP)
Updated 22 June 2017

Etihad to open lounges to economy class passengers for a fee

DUBAI: Etihad Airways is to open up its lounges to economy class passengers for a fee and will start charging for chauffeur services that had been complimentary as it joins rivals in looking for new ways to boost revenues.
The changes, announced on Thursday, come amid a strategy review at the Abu Dhabi carrier as once rapidly expanding Gulf airlines face tighter profit margins amid overcapacity in the market and tighter corporate travel budgets.
The fee for economy passengers to access the business class lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport will start from 370 dirhams ($101) and will depend on how much time is spent in the lounge, an Etihad spokesman said. It will also offer economy class passengers paid access to its lounges at other airports around the world.
The changes, effective on July 3, will also allow business class passengers to pay to use the first class lounges, whilst a previously complimentary chauffeur for business and first class passengers will become a paid for service outside of Abu Dhabi.
Etihad will also open up the service to economy passengers.
Will Horton, senior analyst at Australian aviation consultancy CAPA, said chauffer services have always been a high-cost for airlines so to start charging for them was “not surprising.”
Passengers traveling in the three-room suite available on Etihad’s Airbus A380s, dubbed ‘The Residence,’ will not be charged.
Rival Emirates said in January it would allow economy class passengers who are frequent flyer members to pay to access its lounges. That followed an earlier decision to introduce fees for advanced seat selection for economy passengers.
Other changes at Etihad include introducing a bidding system for economy passengers to pay to have up to three empty seats next to their own, following similar systems in place at some other airlines.
“Airlines are increasingly asking what they have and do not sell but could,” Horton said. “Airlines have been allowing passengers to bid for upgrades but guaranteeing an empty seat next to you is still catching on.”


France ready to take Trump’s tariff threat to WTO

Updated 08 December 2019

France ready to take Trump’s tariff threat to WTO

  • Macron government will discuss a global digital tax with Washington at the OECD, says finance minister

PARIS: France is ready to go to the World Trade Organization to challenge US President Donald Trump’s threat to put tariffs on French goods in a row over a French tax on internet companies, its finance minister said on Sunday.

“We are ready to take this to an international court, notably the WTO, because the national tax on digital companies touches US companies in the same way as EU or French companies or Chinese. It is not discriminatory,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 3 television. Paris has long complained about US digital companies not paying enough tax on revenues earned in France.

In July, the French government decided to apply a 3 percent levy on revenue from digital services earned in France by firms with more than €25 million in French revenue and €750 million ($845 million) worldwide. It is due to kick in retroactively from the start of 2019.

Washington is threatening to retaliate with heavy duties on imports of French cheeses and luxury handbags, but France and the EU say they are ready to retaliate in turn if Trump carries out the threat. Le Maire said France was willing to discuss a global digital tax with the US at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), but that such a tax could not be optional for internet companies.

“If there is agreement at the OECD, all the better, then we will finally have a global digital tax. If there is no agreement at OECD level, we will restart talks at EU level,” Le Maire said.

He added that new EU Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni had already proposed to restart such talks.

France pushed ahead with its digital tax after EU member states, under the previous executive European Commission, failed to agree on a levy valid across the bloc after opposition from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

The new European Commission assumed office on Dec. 1.