As teased in its last update, Emirates is kicking off what it calls “its largest known fleet retrofit project”.
The programme will upgrade entire interior cabins of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft as part of an investment for Emirates’ customers “fly better” in the coming years.
Whilst the main programme officially commences in November, the Emirates’ Engineering team is getting an early start as they identify how this will be done.
The target is to completely retrofit four Emirates aircraft from start to finish every month, continuously for over two years.
Once the 67 A380s are refreshed and back in service, 53 777s will undergo their facelift. This will see nearly 4,000 new Premium Economy seats installed, 728 First Class suites refurbished and over 5,000 Business Class seats upgraded to a new style and design.
The project is due to be completed in April 2025.
In addition, carpets and stairs will be upgraded, and cabin interior panels will be refreshed with new tones and design motifs such as the iconic ghaf trees that are native to the UAE.
Trials began on an A380 in July, where experienced engineers took each cabin apart piece by piece and logged every step. From removing seats and panelling to bolts and screws, every action was tested, timed and mapped out. Potential impediments to completing the installation of Emirates’ new Premium Economy Class or the retrofit of the remaining three cabins in just 16 days were flagged and documented for teams to review and address.
As part of the programme, new purpose-built workshops will be set up at Emirates Engineering to repaint, re-trim and re-upholster Business and Economy Class seats with new covers and cushioning. First Class suites will be carefully disassembled and sent to a specialised company to replace the leather, armrests and other materials. The engineers have been thinking out of the box, such as using existing food catering trucks that could be repurposed to move parts destined for refurbishment
Refreshing and pushing out Premium Economy Fleet-wide
The move by Emirates to refresh its fleet was broadcast when it announced its first class service updates – as I identified, that wasn’t the real news – the rollout of the premium economy seat along with the cabin refresh was the one to watch.
Well, here it is. The deployment will be against 67 Airbus A380s and 53 Boeing 777s – not its entire fleet, but enough to market the product on a good number of their flights. The airline currently has assigned 119 A380, 10 Boeing 777-200LR (which will not get the refresh) and 124 Boeing 777-300ER.
Some of these will be cycled out over time as the airline takes delivery of its Airbus A350, Boeing 777X and Boeing 787 aircraft.
With the premium economy product available on routes to London, Paris, and Sydney, having the option of a larger seat will be always a welcome choice to passengers as more aircraft are fitted with the product and it is offered on many more routes.
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