Emirates will install premium economy cabins in three of its existing Airbus A380 superjumbos as it prepares for an anticipated shift in demand once the airline industry emerges from the coronavirus crisis.
The world’s biggest long-haul airline will retrofit the seats – which offer more room than economy at a cheaper price than business class – into planes supplied by Amedeo Air Four, the leasing firm said in a statement Wednesday.
The change should help adapt the Emirates fleet to a post-Covid travel market in which well-heeled leisure passengers may be prepared to pay more for extra personal space amid continuing health concerns, even as demand for business trips remains subdued or switches to less costly options.
Though Emirates, the largest A380 operator, said at the end of 2020 that its last few new double-deckers would feature premium economy, President Tim Clark only revealed last month that it would convert older ones.
Four-class jets will have 56 premium-economy seats, according a December statement, with the number in coach dropping to 338 to accommodate them. The A380s will still have 76 business and 14 first-class berths.
Dubai-based Emirates has been a late convert to attractions of an upscale coach, which was first introduced at Virgin Atlantic and Taiwan’s EVA Air in the early 1990s.
Superjumbo operators including British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Qantas have long offered the product on their planes, while Lufthansa introduced it in 2015.
Emirates aimed to incorporate premium economy on Boeing’s 777X wide-body last year but switched to deployment on the A380 when that program hit delays.
A single new superjumbo was delivered with the cabin in January and five yet to be delivered from Airbus are expected to be similarly equipped.
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