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Emirates says demand for First Class still ‘very strong’

Carrier unveils new First Class cabin, ad campaign starring Jeremy Clarkson

Gulf News

Dubai: Emirates airline said that demand for its First Class seats remained “very strong” despite a global economic slowdown that has led to lower consumer and corporate spending.

Tim Clark, president of Emirates airline, described First Class products as “core to what Emirates does,” and that the carrier has invested “many millions” of dollars on the new cabin.

“As far as First Class is concerned, many carriers are pursuing what they can see as the response to the demise of First Class by coming up with some better Business Class product, premium product, etc. I have to tell you, though, that demand for First Class on Emirates … remains very strong,” Clark said.

He added that Emirates’ First Class cabins in flights out of Paris and London, for example, are fully booked. Clark said demand for First Class seats was also strong in China.

“The notion that we would eliminate First Class is not on my watch anyway. The notion that we would upgrade that and continue to upgrade not only First Class but Business Class is very important, as we will with Economy, so it’s something that is core to what we do. First Class remains core to what Emirates does,” Clark said.

The comments came at a press conference on Sunday where the carrier unveiled its new First Class suites and refurbished interiors for its Boeing 777 aircraft.

Sliding doors

The new fully-enclosed private suites offer up to 40 square feet of personal space, fully-reclining leather seats, high-tech control panels, and floor-to-ceiling sliding doors. Emirates is also introducing the industry’s first virtual windows for suites in the middle aisle, projecting the view from outside the aircraft using real time camera technology.

Clark said Emirates was looking at how to add the new seats on its A380 aircraft, and said the new cabin will debut on routes to Brussels and Geneva. They will then appear on other long-haul operations including Chicago, and possibly Brisbane, and Perth.

At the press conference, Emirates also unveiled its advertising campaign for the new cabin starring former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson. Clarkson was dismissed from Top Gear after he verbally and physically attacked a crew member on the show.

“Jeremy Clarkson is an automotive buff. You may not like him; most people find him amusing, sometimes a little bit irritating. However, he’s very impactful; he has a global following and he’s an authority in automotive presentation,” Clark said.

In numbers:

84 inches — length of each First Class suite

78 inches long, and 30 inches wide — size of each seat

32-inch HD LCD screen linked to Emirates’ entertainment system

13-inch touch screen to control a passenger seat