The Gulf carrier has confirmed it will continue flying the superjumbo until into the 2040s, unlocking another two decades of its flagship double-decker jet experience.
“The A380 has been and will continue to be very much part of the Emirates story,” Emirates President Sir Tim Clark told reporters on the sidelines of this month’s 2023 Dubai Airshow, adding “we currently expect to fly them until at least 2041.”
What’s more, the Emirates A380 experience is getting even better as the airline ramps up a massive $2bn refit program which will see some one hundred A380s given a new lease of life.
Clark promises passengers “will notice the difference the moment they step onboard – the spacious A380 will look and feel even more impressive and comfortable.”
The first class and business class cabins are adopting a lighter colour palette, stepping gently away from the original gold and faux-walnut burl finishes towards the softer tones and cream-coloured leather upholstery of the second-gen cocktail bar and the latest 777 first class suites.
The 14 first class suites are being finessed with higher walls for added privacy and a wider seat for greater comfort, while high flyers tuck into those unlimited servings of Persian caviar paired with vintage Dom Perignon.
Both of the first class shower suites are also in line for a makeover which includes hand-stencilled panels of the UAE’s native ghaf tree; similar motifs will also feature elsewhere throughout the A380 cabins.
The business class seats stretched along the upper deck are being dismantled and overhauled at the Emirates Engineering workshop, to emerge with reupholstered quilted cream leather and lighter wood veneer as in first class.
At the rear of the upper deck, the original cocktail bar will be ripped out and replaced by a modern showpiece flanked by an L-shaped sofa and a four-seat ‘club-style’ table, with improved soundproofing so passengers in the last few rows of business class aren’t too disturbed by moments of onboard merriment.
Emirates boss Clark says the bar draws its inspiration “from private yacht cabins and (is) more intimate and conducive for our passengers to socialise or enjoy our lounge service.”
The spruced-up superjumbos will also be transformed into four-class jets with the addition of a 56-seat premium economy cabin at the front of the lower deck (in place of 88 economy seats).
Those plush recliners with their 40” seat pitch will wrap around the staircase to the upper deck in a 2-4-2 layout, with dedicated washrooms for premium economy flyers.
All carpet and flooring throughout the aircraft cabins also also being replaced.
Unseen by passengers, but certain to be appreciated, will be an upgrade of the A380’s satellite-powered WiFi system to higher speeds, although the service will remain free for all travellers provided they sign in using their Emirates Skywards number.
(All Skywards members enjoy free messaging, with full Internet access in business and first class as well as for Skywards Platinums regardless off where they’re sitting.)
Emirates’ massive A380 makeover will be completed by 2024, while some of the oldest A380s will be stripped down to provide spare parts for the current fleet.
“The A380 will remain core to our network and customer proposition for the next decade, and we want to ensure our fleet is in tip-top shape,” Clark says.
That “next decade” will of course see a next-gen fleet emerge from the hangars at Dubai, built around relative newcomers such as the Airbus A350, Boeing 787 and of course the Boeing 777X, which Clark expects to see arrive in late 2025.
The workhorse Boeing 777s will also see their dated 2-3-2 business class replaced by a modern seat with a more passenger-friendly 1-2-1 layout from mid-2024.