Friday,  April 19, 2019  6:50 am

Air Canada builds a better gateway in St. John's with its newest Maple Leaf Lounge

Air Canada builds a better gateway in St. John's with its newest Maple Leaf Lounge
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dwight Ball (centre), cuts the ribbon for Air Canada's newest Maple Leaf Lounge at the St. John's International Airport.
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch: christine@paxglobalmedia.com.

Yesterday afternoon, Air Canada unveiled its newest Maple Leaf Lounge at St. John’s International Airport.

The lounge officially opened to the public today, at 4 a.m.

Featuring local artwork, a panoramic view of Signal Hill, the ocean, and the province’s iconic rocky landscape, the newest Maple Leaf Lounge is the 23rd lounge across Air Canada’s network (17 in Canada, three in the U.S. and three in Europe), and the third one opened this year.

Change comes to St. John's

The Maple Leaf Lounge at St. John’s International Airport now offers significantly more space, upgraded amenities, and a wider assortment of refreshments than the previous St. John’s airport lounge. The new lounge represents an important investment, with an emphasis on hiring local artists and contractors, and building using natural and local resources. Right at the entrance, you can’t miss the striking black and white photograph of a fisherman hauling a net across the shore.

Alongside Air Canada staff, special guests included Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Dwight Ball; MP Nick Whalen; St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen; Keith Collins, CEO, St. John’s Airport Authority, and Canadian designer Heekyung Duquette.

Heekyung Duquette, designer of the Maple Leaf Lounge at St. John's, said she was inspired by the natural beauty of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“This is a great day for Air Canada, St. John’s, and the St. John’s International Airport Authority,” said Mats Winter, senior director, product design, Air Canada. “A lot of work has gone into building this facility over the years, and I think a lot of us who are familiar with the old Maple Leaf Lounge that we operate can agree that this is a massive improvement in the customer service experience, and it really marks the final milestone of the redevelopment of the terminal here at the airport.”

Feels like home

Designed by Montreal-based Heekyung Duquette, who is the leading force behind multiple Maple Leaf Lounges for Air Canada, including the one at Toronto Pearson International Airport, the lounge at St. John’s International Airport pays homage to the true elements of Canadian culture, and the spirit of Newfoundland and Labrador, drawing inspiration from the icebergs for the twinkling chandelier, and the rocky shoreline for the slate-grey stone walls, and of course, maple wood throughout.

The chandelier, inspired by the icebergs that pass through Newfoundland and Labrador in the spring.

One of the most exciting features in the new lounge, aside from the fully-equipped business centre, is a fully-functioning back-of-house kitchen, something that the premium lounge never offered.

The space features a self-serve bar, offering a wide selection of beverages, including Canadian wines and Lavazza specialty coffees, a selection of light snacks, a business centre and comfortable seating. Business travellers planning to work on site may also take advantage of a cyber counter equipped with PCs and colour printing, complimentary WiFi and access to more than 7,000 digital newspaper and magazine content via the PressReader app.

An historic day

“On May 1, 1942, at 4:15 p.m., the very first scheduled commercial aircraft landed here in St. John’s,” said Keith Collins, CEO, St. John’s Airport Authority. “The flight was operated by TransCanada Airlines, now known as Air Canada, and there were five passengers on board, and they left one hour later with six passengers on board, and so began Air Canada’s service to this great city.”

Keith Collins, CEO, St. John's Airport Authority.

In the last 70 years, there have been hundreds of thousands of flights and millions of passengers served by Air Canada in St. John’s, Newfoundland. In 2018, Air Canada increased their seat capacity to and from YYT by six per cent.

“We’ve been rebuilding the province and attracting business and growing tourism to Newfoundland and Labrador, because we know that we’re one rare find, and that really starts with the experience once you enter,” Premier Ball said. “For a lot of people, this is the gateway to Newfoundland and Labrador, and we want you to have a great experience that goes beyond, and this lounge is a class act to start things off. This partnership with Air Canada is really symbolic of what we’ve been doing as a province in the last couple years.”

Building a better gateway

During the ceremony, Air Canada announced that for the first time in history, they carried 50 million travellers for this year alone, an accomplishment the entire team is proud of.

“Over the last few decades, Air Canada has continued to invest in our airport with more flights, more destinations, and newer aircraft, and they remain our largest airport partner to this day,” Collins said. “It’s a partnership we value greatly, and this lounge is an outstanding addition to our newly-expanded departures area in the phase one of our airport expansion, and it will enhance the airport experience for so many frequent flyers departing from St. John’s.”

Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, Dwight Ball.

The Maple Leaf Lounge is the only lounge available to travellers departing from YYT and has the capacity for up to 84 guests. With 77 per cent more space than the lounge it is replacing, the 46 additional seats provide visitors with a spacious and relaxing environment, and with comfortable seating that features built-in charging outlets, it’s the perfect place to relax, unwind, and even get some work done. Air Canada premium agents are also on site, and are available to assist customers with travel requirements.

“It’s not cheap to build a new Maple Leaf Lounge, but we’ve done it because we’re committed to the market here in St. John’s,” Winters concluded.

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