With Emirates preparing to conduct a major refit of its Airbus A380 fleet to have four-class seating installed (along with other cabin upgrades), the airline is working on its deployment post-refit.
Emirates Airbus A380 landing at London Heathrow – Image, Economy Class and Beyond.
The airline will add its retrofitted A380s featuring its latest Premium Economy cabins to five new cities from December – New York JFK, San Francisco, Melbourne, Auckland and Singapore. The airline will also add more Premium Economy seats on services to London Heathrow and Sydney as its newly enhanced aircraft roll into scheduled service.
Emirates plans to deploy 85 A380s in the sky by December to help with the expected demand spikes.
The enhanced A380s with Premium Economy to New York JFK, San Francisco, Melbourne, Auckland and Singapore will operate as follows:
- New York JFK, Emirates will operate with its newly retrofitted A380 on EK203 and EK204, starting from 1 December.
- Auckland, Emirates will debut its Premium Economy cabin on EK448 and EK449, starting 15 January 2023.
- Melbourne will be the second Australian destination to be served with a four-class A380. Services will be deployed on EK406 and EK407 from 1 February 2023
- San Francisco will become the second US destination to be served by the retrofitted A380 with refreshed interiors on EK225 and EK226, starting on 15 February 2023.
- Singapore will be the last city in this first way operating as EK354 and EK355 from 1 March 2023
Emirates will also update its schedules to London Heathrow, Sydney and New York JFK with its retrofitted A380 aircraft operating on the following services:
- From 15 December 2022, Sydney will become the first city in the Emirates network to offer Premium Economy seats on all flights, with EK414 and EK 415.
- From 1 January 2023, London Heathrow will receive its third daily service with Premium Economy, with the new product debuting on EK005 and EK006.
- From 15 March 2023, Emirates will operate its second A380 with Premium Economy to New York JFK on EK 201 and EK 202.
Finally, Emirates will commence A380 services with a Premium Economy to Christchurch from 26 March 2023, as an extension of the Dubai to Sydney service, operating with EK412 and EK413.
Return of the Whalejet
The airline has noticed that travel demand has increased and thus is deploying more of its A380 fleet. It plans to operate the A380 to 42 destinations by the end of March 2023. In tandem, the airline is optimising its network to meet demand by enhancing its existing schedules to over 400 A380 departures from Dubai, offering 460,000 weekly A380 seats by March 2023, including 81,000 seats across its premium cabins.
Emirates will be serving close to a third of its network with its flagship on 85 A380s, with further destinations such as Houston, Bengaluru, Perth, Auckland, Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur to receive the type in the coming weeks – bringing it to 75% of pre-pandemic coverage of the network with the large jet.
It’s still about the passenger experience. And filling seats
The premium market is an interesting one – as people decide to invest their money in a product. We all know that having a middle option between business class and economy class is a very valid thing for an airline to do – as some passengers are happy to pay up for a larger space and comfy seat, but don’t have the funds or need for a flatbed.
Premium Economy has filled that gap, allowing airlines to sacrifice a portion of their cabin (normally the economy side), pop a few rows of seats in with an uprated passenger experience, and charge for the private. This is shown in what happened with Emirates, with the airline noting that since it debuted its Premium Economy Class to London, Paris and Sydney, customer response has been overwhelmingly positive with demand exceeding expectations, demonstrating its appeal and willingness of travellers to trade up and try customised experience it offers.
On a four-class Emirates A380, the Premium Economy cabin is located at the front of the main deck with 56 seats laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration – a rather premium place to put passengers.
In the end, it is going to be a matter for the airline to fill those seats, with passengers paying for the appropriate fare and delivering the promised passenger experience.
With more routes and aircraft being fitted, it is a challenge that Emirates is sure to meet.
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