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Emirates plans two-class Airbus A380, dropping first class suites

By David Flynn     Filed under: emirates, Airbus A380

Emirates Airline is working on a two-class configuration for its Airbus A380s which would axe the superjumbo's prestigious first class suites.

The A380s would be fitted out with business and economy cabins, although the upper deck bar would remain.

The current configuration sees first class and business class on the upper deck, with the entire lower deck given over to economy.

Emirates Airline president Tim Clark reportedly confirmed the plans to Air Transport World, although he said the exact number of seats in the new A380 variant – which could begin flying in 2016, if the plans go ahead – is still to be determined.

Emirates' would retain its original A380 layout for its most profitable long-haul routes, while using additional two-class A380 to serve selected markets with where there's a high demand for seats, but not at high prices.

ATW also reports that a similar two-class Boeing 777 configuration is "on the table again", along with plans to expand legroom in the 777-300ER's business class by trimming the number of first class seats from eight down to four.

Emirates is Airbus' biggest customer for the A380, with 31 superjumbos already in its fleet and another 59 on order.

All nine airlines flying the Airbus A380 offer three or four classes on the superjumbo, with nine more airlines on the waiting list, so Emirates' moves is sure to be closely watched by other A380 customers.

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 17/3/13 by eightblack

My guess is that they will do some route rationalisation - maybe even out of Australia. For example, the MEL-SIN-MEL routes currently run a 3 class 777 but if they upgauge that to a 380, that could very well fit the 2-class A380, given that F loads between MEL and SIN are always very light. I'm sure that they will review each route on a case by case basis (ie I would never envisage  them running a 2-class between DXB and LHR). I'm also sure that they would keep a 3-class on the direct MEL-DXB route as well. 

2 on 17/3/13 by alatar144

This article reads as if Emirates is entirely dropping first class from their entire A380 fleet, which of course is not happening. Only the possibility, long talked about, of introducing a second major configuration.

1 on 17/3/13 by David

Hi Alatar144 - the article doesn't state that EK would drop first class from all its A380s, it talks purely about a new sans suites layout. EK definitely isn't going to drop first from all A380s, this will just be a second config for the superjumbo fleet. I've now added a paragraph on that into the article just so there's no confusion.

3 on 17/3/13 by Al

A very interesting move, especially as Emirates is "the king of bling" when it comes to their A380 suites but even they with their rich customers are looking to drop first class and load up more J and Y seats. But it makes sense for a lot of destination I suppose like many European cities also also some in Asia and India where they can turn a handful of unsold suites into dozens of economy seats.

1 on 17/3/13 by AirRhodesia

I agree, it's just not profitable to offer first class suites when flyers rarely use them.

4 on 17/3/13 by Lee

They should consider Premium Economy

1 on 18/3/13 by Amjid

PE would be good... Especially with the QF tie-up about to come into effect, I think a PE is warranted. When you consider that QF has upped its luggage and now offers Driver Pickup/Drop off for First & Business class passengers - a move to PE would put them on-par with their new partner...

5 on 18/3/13 by Amjid

I think this is a good move by EK. As 'Al' says, some routes are not profitable for First Class (the Likes of India and the Sub-continent). I for one would love to see EK use A380's on flights to Pakistan. They currently only fly 2-class 777's and 330's to Pakistan with up-to 5 Daily to Karachi... So if at least one of them were A380, I am sure this would be a plus...

6 on 18/3/13 by AirportAddict

Any word of putting in a Premium economy? Clark did mention that they were looking at it didn't he?

1 on 18/3/13 by airtraveladdict

although it would be nice, i don't see it happening. emirates' bread and butter are those 10abreast economy seats, which it squeezes every cent out of every inch or milimetre

I recently booked a friend of mine from the UK to Melb, return for 714 pounds including taxes etc, so about $1,000 australian dollars.

and they wouldnt want to canabalise their business class. They gotta make up the $$$ lost by removing the extra squeezy rows of economy, but they have to price it within reach of the economy class pax or travellers who would dish out abit extra for privacy, comfort, better meal, cabin service and perks on the ground like priority check-in, baggage, boarding etc.

If emirates did do it, i think it would turn out to be like cathay pacific, where they hype it up and ive read about a dozen TRs where the experience has been underwhelming.

Off topic though, I saw Japan Airlines new PE class, its like 42" seat pitch!

Costs about $3,000 return between sydney and europe.

7 on 18/3/13 by airtraveladdict

There is a reason why Singapore airlines is now releasing 2 suites per flight for redemption flights whereas in the past they didn't and then they opened 1 slot and now 2.

Oh some flights with high capacity, its 90-100% load on economy and 40-80% load in business class and in first class suites, its 1 pax or empty.

But I could be wrong because I get my info from reading trip reports and most of the time, the reviewers say its 1 or 2 in these suites.

And I don't know of any companies out there who allow their executives to flight First Class because it costs approx $10k plus for a return ticket.

8 on 19/3/13 by JamesM

"Yes" to EK converting the first class cabin into premium economy, they really need this grade of service.


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