Sir Tim Clark, the longtime President of Emirates airline has let slip that the Dubai-based carrier is actively working on the third-generation of its iconic onboard bar and lounge, a popular feature amongst Emirates’ premium customers. While Sir Tim admits that the ‘third-generation bar’ is still “a work in progress”, the British born aviation executive claims the lounge will “be a step-change in what we’re doing.”
“It’ll be very, very, very attractive, I can assure you,” Sir Tim said in comments made to Executive Traveller.
The new redesign comes just over two years after Emirates’ second-generation onboard lounge took flight in October 2017. The design of the second-generation model apparently took inspiration from private yacht cabins with lighter ‘Champagne’ colours, new LED lighting and a huge 55-inch LCD screen with the ability to screen live sports and news.
Exclusively for the use of First and Business class passengers, the 2nd gen bar also features a redesigned seating area – upping the maximum occupancy of the lounge to 26 passengers, as well as new window blinds, subwoofers for surround sound and new soundproof curtains to keep the noise in the lounge and out of the cabin.
Manufactured in the British seaside town of Bournemouth, each onboard lounge takes up 21 square metres of space, costs an estimated $3 million and is made up of 1,300 parts. Yet despite the cost and large footprint, Emirates sees its onboard lounge as a massive success that is incredibly popular with passengers.
Sadly, the lounge is only available on the airline’s fleet of Airbus A380’s – which currently make up less than 50 per cent of the Emirates fleet. At present, the Boeing 777-300 doesn’t have any lounge or bar, while the reconfigured 777-200LR jets only have a very small ‘social area’ in the middle of the Business Class cabin.
Sir Tim hasn’t indicated whether Emirates plans to retrofit the new lounge onto its older A380’s – an idea the airline dismissed for its 2nd generation lounge and which first debuted on its 100th A380. The lounge is now flying on just 13 of the airline’s A380’s and only 10 more are to be delivered to the airline before Airbus stops manufacturing the aircraft type forever.
Emirates has already started retiring some of its oldest A380’s – the first of which it took delivery of in 2008. A couple of A380’s are currently being used for spare parts, while the total number of A380’s in the fleet will reduce to around 90 by the mid-2020s. The final A380 is likely to leave the Emirates at some point in 2035.
Onboard bars have been trialled by a number of airlines, although most have decided that sacrificing the space where cash-generating seats could be fitted just isn’t worth the risk. For Emirates, the A380 was large enough to make its now-iconic and much-loved lounge work but is it worth the risk on different aircraft types?
In the next few years, the airline will start taking deliveries of Airbus A350’s and A330neo’s, as well as Boeing 787 Dreamliners. So far, current operators of these aircraft models have been very conservative in their configurations, although Virgin Atlantic has placed a seated ‘social area’ on its A350’s.
Sadly, Virgin Atlantic decided not to install a full bar, which means it can no longer claim to have a full-service bar area on every single one of its permanent fleet.
Also of interest, is the ‘climate emergency’ and ‘flight shaming’ debates – placing a lounge or bar on a plane is definitely not a good move to reduce CO2 emissions – and that’s going to become an increasingly important goal over the next few years.