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Emirates Expands its Aircraft Retrofit Programme With Plans to Refit 71 More A380s and 777s With New Interiors

Emirates Expands its Aircraft Retrofit Programme With Plans to Refit 71 More A380s and 777s With New Interiors

an airplane with seats and a sign on the wall

Emirates announced on day two of the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai that it is going to massively expand its aircraft retrofit programme with plans to refit 71 more Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s with brand new interiors, including Premium Economy.

The Dubai-based carrier will carry out a complete nose-to-tail refurbishment of 43 Airbus A380s and 28 Boeing 777s as part of the expanded refit programme first announced in 2022, which involved 120 aircraft.

a woman standing in a plane
Emirates Premium Economy

Since the programme was first announced, Emirates has already refitted 22 A380s, equipping them with a new Premium Economy cabin, along with an updated onboard bar and lounge and refreshed interiors throughout the rest of the aircraft.

In July, the first of Emirates’ Boeing 777 fleet will go into the hangar to start its refurbishment, providing a significant upgrade for Business Class passengers as brand new seats in a 1-2-1 configuration will be installed.

This marks the first time that Emirates has offered all aisle access for Business Class on its Boeing 777s and will also see the end of the dreaded middle seat in the centre three seats.

Each 777 will take around two weeks to refurbish and will involve stripping out 50 Economy seats in order to install Emirates’ 24-seater Premium Economy cabin.

The airline does not, however, intend to install its much-lauded ‘gamechanger’ First Class with fully enclosed seats but will simply refresh the existing eight-seater cabin with new materials and finishes.

“We’re topping up our multi-billion dollar investment in the retrofit programme to introduce cutting-edge cabin products on more of our A380s and Boeing 777s, demonstrating a clear commitment to elevating the customer experience with a best-in-class suite of products across every cabin,” commented Emirates’ president Sir Tim Clark on Tuesday.

“The addition of more aircraft  fitted with our newest generation seats, updated cabin finishings and a contemporary colour palette also marks a significant step in ensuring more customers can consistently experience our premium products across both aircraft types.”

Emirates is yet to confirm any details about its new Business Class seat, although the cabin will only shrink by two seats to allow a capacity of 40 passengers.

The refurbishment programme will see Emirates’ own in-house engineering teams replace the airline’s classic desert theme with what it describes as a “light and modern” colour scheme that features new “classy textured panels” and coloured lights.

Sir Tim had resisted calls to install a Premium Economy cabin on the airline’s planes, but in 2020, the airline eventually relented and initially installed the seats on just a few A380s.

Within a few months, Sir Tim admitted that passengers were “clamouring” to get a Premium Economy seat. Rather than ‘cannibalising’ Business Class demand as Sir Tim had worried would happen, the airline quickly discovered that passengers were eager to upgrade from Economy.

By the time the project has finished, Emirates will have installed 8,104 Premium Economy seats, 1,894 refreshed First Class suites, 11,182 new Business Class seats and 21,814 Economy Class seats, although a timeline for when the programme might be completed by has not yet been shared.

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