- Emirates is giving its new Airbus A380s an interior upgrade with each cabin receiving an enhancement.
- Economy class will receive “ergonomically designed” seats with leather headrests and tray tables with wood finishes.
- Premium economy will also make its first debut at the airline with 56 recliner seats in an elegant cabin.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Emirates is one of the few airlines still flying the Airbus A380, a dying breed of aircraft that will soon stop being produced by Airbus. But the world’s largest operator of the A380 isn’t giving up on the world’s largest passenger jet.
The Middle Eastern mega carrier on Tuesday unveiled a massive overhaul to its flagship aircraft that sees every cabin receiving enhancements and even the addition of a premium economy class, a first for 35-year-old Emirates. The first A380 complete with the upgrades has already arrived in Dubai with more to be delivered in the next two years.
Emirates is known for luxurious aircraft, as Insider’s Rachel Hosie found while touring the airline’s A380 at the 2019 Dubai Air Show, and spares no expense, especially in its premium cabins. In first class on the A380, for example, passengers not only sit in gold-accented privates suites but have access to the master bathroom with its own shower.
And while other airlines have moved to discard the A380 during the pandemic due to its high operating costs, Emirates still has nothing but praise for the aircraft. “It’s palatial,” CEO Sir Tim Clark told Business Insider’s David Slotnick in a July interview. “And people absolutely love it. They still go out of their way to get on the 380.”
Take a look inside one of Emirates’ new Airbus A380s.
Emirates was an early adopter of the A380 and has become its most ardent supporter, amassing the largest fleet of the type while committing to fly it during the pandemic.
The aircraft quite literally towers over anything else in Emirates’ passenger fleet as the only double-decker aircraft the airline flies.
And it’s become a status symbol for the airline, with Emirates First Class on the A380 one of the pinnacles of airborne luxury.
Emirates’ A380s can be found flying as far as New York, Sydney, and Hong Kong from Dubai, or as close as Muscat, Oman.
But no matter the distance, the opulence of the A380 is the same on every flight.
Case in point, Emirates offers an in-flight shower for first class passengers on the A380.
Premium cabin customers can also visit the in-flight bar on the A380’s upper deck.
And now it’s time for an upgrade, starting with installing “ergonomically designed” economy seats throughout the entire 338-seat cabin.
Emirates calls them “gamechanger” seats and says they’re lighter with no sacrifice of comfort. They will also feature new 13.3-inch in-flight entertainment screens and have tray tables complete with wood finishes.
Here’s what the seats look like on current A380s.
The soft colour palette resembles the desert landscape of the UAE and seats come complete with heather adjustable headrests.
The new A380s also feature Emirates’ first premium economy cabin with 56 recliner seats in a standard 2-4-2 configuration.
Along the cabin walls are new wood finishes, a key theme in the redesign, surrounding the windows.
The seat-back screens are the same size as those in economy at 13.3 inches…
And the folding tray tables have the same wood finishes.
A key feature of premium economy is the recliner seats and they come with a leg and foot rest.
And that’s just the first floor, the business class and first class cabins are located on the second floor.
Business class seats now feature champagne-colour finishes and more wood paneling.
First class is also receiving wider suites with taller doors for more privacy. Here’s what the existing product looks like.
The in-flight bar is getting an upgrade, as well, with new seating areas and a more luxurious colour palette similar to what’s found in business class.
First class passengers will notice more wood paneling in the shower spa and more modern touches.
No other existing aircraft will receive the premium economy cabin but Emirates says it will opt for the cabin on a future arrival, the Boeing 777X.
The world’s largest twin-engine jet is scheduled to be delivered to launch operator Emirates in 2023.
It’s currently flying test flights around the Pacific Northwest in preparation for certification.
Emirates is considering retrofitting its existing A380 fleet to the new standard but the company has to weigh whether it’s worth the investment for a plane whose days are numbered.
Airbus will stop producing the A380 in 2021 after its final delivery to, you guessed it, Emirates.
The final fuselage has already arrived in Toulouse, France, where Airbus pieces together the A380.
Clark told Business Insider that the aircraft will “hopefully” fly for another decade. Emirates has over 100 A380s in its fleet at the moment.
Air France retired its A380 fleet after just 11 years, citing the pandemic as the reason since it couldn’t fill the 516-seat aircraft anymore.
The four-engine aircraft are also too costly to operate at a time when every penny counts.
They have also been largely grounded by the few airlines still operating the A380 including British Airways…
And Korean Air, among others.
The sun is setting on the A380, but it will at least be going out in style with Emirates’ new design.
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