A look inside Emirates’ all-new Premium Economy
Emirates will have 56 aircraft featuring Premium economy once the retrofits are done. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: After generating significant demand since the launch, Dubai’s Emirates airline will expand the ‘Premium Economy’ concept on flights to 20 countries from two now. This will be done by end March 31, 2024, which coincides with the closing of Emirates’ 2023-24 financial year.

For now, Emirates has Premium Economy seats on flights to Heathrow and Sydney. “As we progress towards this financial year and next, we will ramp up our offering using 56 aircraft,” said Adnan Kazim, Chief Commercial Officer of Emirates. “More than 35 destinations will enjoy Premium Economy seats.

“The details (of countries) that will receive the Premium Economy deployment will be shared as we progress within the financial year. This new cabin type’s deployment will be a major expansion as part of that retrofit program we have already commenced.”

“We have an existing fleet of seven aircraft with the offering, six of which we received from Airbus and one that was retrofitted.”

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Emirates hopes to ramp up the fleet size to 56 aircraft with Premium Economy by the end of the year. The addition of this seating class is a core intent of the ongoing $2 billion retrofit program.

Kazim revealed that it costs Emirates $15 million to retrofit one A380 aircraft.

Emirates had announced plans to debut its newly retrofitted A380s featuring Premium Economy cabins to five cities - New York JFK, San Francisco, Melbourne, Auckland and Singapore - in September last. On a four-class Emirates A380, Premium Economy is located at the front of the main deck with 56 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration.

Emirates’ first retrofitted A380 entered service on January 6, departing Dubai for London Heathrow. “This is only the beginning - it is only part of the 120 aircraft (A380s and Boeing 777s) that we plan to refurbish,” said Kazim. “We are aiming to get an additional 50 aircraft to be a part of the retrofit program this year.”

This will result in nearly 4,000 Premium Economy seats installed, 728 First class suites getting refreshed, and more than 5,000 Business class seats upgraded. The airline’s target is to retrofit four Emirates aircraft from start to finish every month, continuously for over two years.

Once the 67 earmarked A380s are refreshed and back in service, 53 Boeing 777s will undergo their facelift.