Addressing an aviation conference in Dubai on Sunday, the President of Emirates told the assembled media that the introduction of a brand new Premium Economy product would be delayed by around six months. The new seat will now likely appear on one of the airline’s flagship Airbus A380’s.
The Persian Gulf mega carriers have traditionally eschewed the Premium Economy market but last year Sir Tim Clark finally confirmed Emirates would be the first Middle East airline to take a foray into the burgeoning and incredibly popular market.
In the past, Sir Tim has expressed his fears of installing Premium Economy on Emirates’ planes because he was concerned it would cannibalise the airline’s Business Class market. Experience from other airlines shows that it is generally more popular with traditional Economy Class passengers who are willing to pay a little more for a slightly better product, rather than Business passengers downgrading.
Sir Tim hasn’t shared too many about the new Premium Economy seat but today said it would be a “beautiful product”. He does, however, remain cautious, going on to tell the media:
“Whether or not we can apply it (Premium Economy) in a ubiquitous manner across the network is something else… but people will see it as it comes out and it’s going to be really good.”
Emirates had been expected to launch the new Premium Economy Seat on the first of its Boeing 777X aircraft which are due to start being delivered from June 2020. Unfortunately, that timeline is likely to be pushed back because of delays Boeing is facing in the development of the aircraft.
The Seattle-based aircraft manufacturer has already pushed back the first test flight of the 777X from late this year to early 2020. Its likely that initial deliveries for launch customers like Emirates will also slip.
Sir Tim said he believed the first of 150 of the aircraft Emirates has on order would not arrive in June as had been originally planned. As a result, Emirates has transferred the debut of its Premium Economy product to an A380.
While there’s still no confirmation what Emirates’ Premium Economy will look like, speculation is rife that the airline will install a staggered seat produced by Haeco.
Up until now, the closest that any of the Middle East airlines have got to Premium Economy is Etihad which started installing extra legroom seats on select long-haul aircraft earlier this year. Premium Economy has now been around for several decades but the claim of which airline first thought of the idea is widely disputed – both Virgin Atlantic and EVA Air claim the rights to that accolade.