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Passengers Are “Clamouring” To Get Into Emirates’ New Premium Economy Seats

Passengers Are “Clamouring” To Get Into Emirates’ New Premium Economy Seats

Emirates is now planning to shell out millions of dollars to retrofit existing planes with its new Premium Economy cabin according to the Dubai-based airline’s president Sir Tim Clark. The carrier unveiled its first-ever Premium Economy seat in late December but at the time no decision had been reached on whether to spend money on retrofitting older planes with the new seats.

Passengers “have been clamouring to get into them,” Sir Tim said of the Premium Economy seats on Wednesday. The new cabin debuted on the Dubai (DXB) to London Heathrow (LHR) route in early January but it wasn’t available to book and only select “valued customers” were invited to sit in the cabin with a complimentary upgrade from regular Economy.

Each seat is 19.5 inches wide, with a recline of 8 inches and a pitch of up to 40 inches.

At the time, the route between Dubai and London Heathrow was the most popular in the world. That, however, came to an abrupt end when the UK slapped a travel ban on the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over fears of travellers from the country bringing mutant COVID-19 variants with them.

Sir Tim now thinks the travel industry won’t see a resurgence in demand before the end of 2021 but nonetheless, he confirmed that Emirates was now committed to a “mega million-dollar expenditure” on rolling out the Premium Economy seat on more planes.

Without retrofitting existing planes, the cabin is only due to appear on the last five factory-fresh Airbus A380’s which Emirates will take delivery of by the end of 2022. The seats will also appear on the Boeing 777X but Sir Tim has pushed back delivery for that aircraft until 2024.

“We are in the process of trying to establish just how many of the existing fleet we can put through conversion, we’re going to do that at pace,” Sir Tim told a CAPA aviation conference. “That’s a mega million-dollar expenditure but we’re going to do that,” he continued.

In an interview with Reuters, however, Sir Tim took a more considered approach to when the aviation industry might bounce back from the drop in demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sir Tim had been hopeful that the approval of viable vaccines would result in a surge in demand by the summer.

But with the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, some countries are pulling down the hatches while they concentrate on inoculating their populations.

“It is going to take longer than I would have hoped and I think probably we are going to see some difficulties. We are not going to see capacity return that I hoped in July and August, I think, maybe (it will return) in the last quarter this year,” Sir Tim concluded.

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