Stock - Emirates
Emirates plans to bring the A380s onto another 5 routes by December, including two routes to the US. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Dubai: The first of newly retrofitted A380s with the Premium Economy cabins will be deployed to five destinations from December: New York JFK, San Francisco, Melbourne, Auckland and Singapore. The airline will also add more Premium Economy seats on existing services to London Heathrow and Sydney, leveraging in full the demand being generated for the newly created seating.

The latest deployment plans will also see 85 of Emirates’ A380s in the skies by December and timed to fully meet year-end travel demand. It was last month that the Dubai airline confirmed a $2 billion investment programme on the retrofitting to be done at its Dubai engineering facility. The intent is to bring out four aircraft each month done up with the changes.

The A380 services will be ramped up to 42 destinations by the end of March next. The airline is ‘optimising its network to meet robust demand and enhancing its existing schedules to over 400 A380 departures from Dubai - offering 460,000 weekly seats - by March 2023, including 81,000 seats across its premium cabins’.

By year-end, the airline will have around a third of its networks serviced with 85 A380s as it ‘unlocks more destinations like Houston, Bengaluru, Perth, Auckland, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur’. Additional cities will be added later.

Emirates’ retrofitted A380s with Premium Economy will operate as follows:

• To New York JFK, Emirates will operate with its newly retrofitted A380 on EK203 and EK 204, starting December 1.

• To Auckland, Emirates will debut its Premium Economy cabin on EK 448 and EK 449, from January 15.

• Starting February 1, Melbourne will become the second Australian destination to be served with the Emirates A380 featuring a Premium Economy. Services will be deployed on EK 406 and EK 407.

• San Francisco will become the second US destination to be served by the retrofitted A380 with refreshed interiors on EK 225 and EK 226, starting February 15.

• Emirates’ enhanced A380 with Premium Economy will land in Singapore for the first time on March 1, operating as EK 354 and EK 355.

With an expanded list of destinations, Emirates will have recovered 75 per cent of its pre-pandemic A380 network.

Starting November, the airline will start work on the upgrade and retrofit of 67 Airbus A380 and 53 Boeing 777 aircraft, with one aircraft rolling out into service every 16 days. By 2025, nearly 4,000 new Premium Economy seats will be installed, 728 First Class suites refurbished and over 5,000 Business Class seats upgraded to a new style and design.

Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the A380 – which Airbus has stopped production of - with 118 double-decker aircraft in its fleet. Since A6-EVF, the first A380 was reactivated in 2020, the operating fleet has clocked in more than 31,000 trips, carrying over 10 million passengers.

Emirates will also update its schedules to London Heathrow, Sydney and New York JFK with its retrofitted A380 aircraft operating on the following services:

• From December 15, Sydney will become the first city in the Emirates network to offer Premium Economy seats on all flights, with the introduction of the airline’s retrofitted aircraft on EK 414 and EK 415.

• From January 1, London Heathrow will receive its third daily service with Premium Economy, with the new product debuting on EK 005 and EK 006.

• From March 15, Emirates will operate its second A380 with Premium Economy to New York JFK on EK 201 and EK 202.

• Emirates will also start A380 services with a Premium Economy debut to Christchurch from March 26, as an extension of the Dubai to Sydney service, operating with EK 412 and EK 413.