Emirates confirms premium economy launch for 2020 on new Airbus A380s

Emirates confirms premium economy launch for 2020 on new Airbus A380s

Emirates will add premium economy seats to its new Airbus A380 fleet from 2020, airline CEO Tim Clark has confirmed.

Update: Emirates CEO Tim Clark has revealed the first premium economy details to AusBT, with what he described as ‘sleeperette’ seats with an exclusive-to-Emirates design and 38-40 inch pitch to be fitted fleet-wide across all Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s – read our article here.

Speaking on one of Emirates' own inflight podcast programs, Clark says the new seat would make its debut on 20 new Airbus A380s due for delivery from 2020.

"We have already spec’d out the airplanes; we know exactly what we’re going to do, [and] where we’re going to place these seats, which zones (destinations) and how we’re designing the product,” Clark revealed, after describing the seat as something "special".

“The airplanes that we ordered, the latest A380s - the first six of which come in 2020 – we will be installing premium economy in those, and it will be an Emirates premium economy, so it will be special.”

"We’ve just got to make absolutely sure that the maths stack up," he added, with the total premium economy package from seats to service being carefully positioned between business class and economy.

Emirates will be the first of the 'Gulf trio' to embrace premium economy, and its move – if successful – could push Etihad and Qatar to reconsider premium economy for their own long-range flights.

The airline has most recently been busy upgrading its first class and business class offerings, unveiling new suites for the Boeing 777-3000ER ahead of their transition to the same new Airbus A380s as will see premium economy, although the superjumbo suites won't arrive until 2021.

The suites – which will be reduced in number from the current count of 14 suites to just 11 luxe cribs in a 1-1-1 footprint –will be accompanied by new bathrooms and shower spa suites, in what Clark had described as a "transformation of the cabin."

Less is known about Emirates' plans for its next-generation business class, which has been flagged for its new Boeing 777X jets.

Speaking to media in Dubai at the launch of the airline’s new first class suite in November 2017, Clark said the seat would “resemble what we have on the Airbus A380s upstairs," however this could see a shift to a staggered 1-2-1 layout compared to the current and far less favourable 2-3-2 business class configuration.

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.
 

27 comments

  • Matt J

    MattJelonek

    13 May, 2016 11:22 am

    Is be keen for Etihad to have a Premium seat. Which ever Gulf three get it first I'll be flying with them.

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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    13 May, 2016 12:45 pm

    I could see a case for Premium Economy but let us be honest; the Middle East 3 have a lot of passengers who want very very low fares. They're high-volume businesses. The ME3's closest economies and customer bases (India for instance) also have quite a bit of wealth polarization, which reduces the demand for Premium Economy (since PE targets people with moderate budgets rather than large or small budgets).

    PE will probably be reserved for longhaul flights (including Australia and NZ) and flights to Western Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and perhaps Singapore. India and Africa, and perhaps mainland China, seem less likely to get it.

    If it is to be rolled out, I don't think we'll see it on the 777s, but we will probably see it on the 777Xs and we will obviously see it on the A380s.. probably in a 9-abreast configuration on the A380 and an 8-abreast config on the 777X for the sake of product consistency. We could expect 19" width and 38" pitch to be the target size, I'd think.

    I wonder how the high-density A380s would be configured with PE... perhaps the upstairs economy section gets replaced with a 7-abreast PE section?

    As for service differentiation, I think it would be pretty easy for EK... they just have free champagne in PE (whereas Economy passengers pay for champagne IIRC).

    I'd hope Qatar would be considering PE as well considering they have a massive gulf between their economy (which is now getting worse on the 777s) and business (which is excellent), plus the fact they're in OneWorld and a lot of other OW airlines have PE (BA, QF, CX, JL, and soon AA will have it too).

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  • DB

    aussieboyaussie

    13 May, 2016 01:59 pm

    Finally!! Get cracking.

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  • langdonfm

    langdonfm

    13 May, 2016 07:09 pm

    I would be keener to see what Emirates considers a "Premium" economy offering, given how sub-standard their B777 Economy class is relative to other full service airlines. Expecting a lot of spin and little substance.

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  • crazybenjamin

    crazybenjamin

    21 Nov, 2016 04:59 pm

    "relative to other full service airlines"
    Uh, no.
    Nearly every other 777 operator is moving to 10-abreast seating in Y class. EK already does this, but they compensate with extra legroom.
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  • Chris McKellar

    krisdude

    14 May, 2016 09:28 am

    I think the first of the Gulf 3 to introduce Premium Economy would be Etihard, as it similar to Singapore Airlines in regards to product quality. I don't see Emirates in a big hurry to intorduce it in the mediate term and Qatar is promoting itself as a 5 star airline, whilst they may be looking at, they would be in hurry to introduce it unless Etihard and/or Emirates introduce it.

    Up to a couple of years ago, Singapore was opposed to PE but since other Star Alliance carriers have introduced PE, they have relented and introduce it.

    If Emirates does decide to introduce PE, it will be on routes where their competitors have PE.

    PE as a product, has been a good seller and airlines do get a good return on the product, as PE is not cabin staff intensive compared to Business and First Class, as PE cabin staff can be utilized in economy.

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  • Peter Alba

    Peter Alba

    16 Jun, 2016 05:04 pm

    There is a real prize for the first of the Middle East carriers to introduce Premium Economy and to do it on their connecting flights that are 4 hours or more. It doesn't have to be a large PE cabin but from Scotland  it would be a game changer, fill seats and bring traffic that has no choice but to go through Heathrow.

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  • Dale

    Dale

    1 Jun, 2018 04:40 pm

    The new PE will be in A380, there is some question as to an A380 using Edinburgh Airport. The 787 does not dock at the boom. But on the tarmac, both for arrivals and departures. At present no A380 uses Edinburgh Airport.
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  • sgb

    sgb

    21 Nov, 2016 09:05 am

    Not sure if I like having the overhead lockers removed on window seats. I always like having my own entire locker. The so called 20% bigger lockers in middle row doesn't seem to compensate, could end up tight on full flights.
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  • sgb

    sgb

    21 Nov, 2016 09:12 am

    sorry, 28% bigger.
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  • Jono

    Jono

    21 Nov, 2016 09:19 am

    An earlier poster made an interesting point, that the ME3

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  • Dale

    Dale

    21 Nov, 2016 09:26 am

    It will largely depend on the cost of the seat. This is like economy, very cost sensitive. My experience with PE is with BA, SIA, and CX. They very much the same product?, and the same cost?. So EK,or QR would need to be in the same cost.
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  • reeves35

    reeves35

    21 Nov, 2016 11:15 am

    Were EK to introduce a PE seat, it may not be all good news as they will probably take the oportunity to keep overall A380 capacity the same as it currently is by adopting an 11 abreast Y seat similar in width to what they already have on the 777s.
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  • Flying Fish

    AWA2602

    22 Nov, 2016 03:01 am

    Hopefully the hideous plastic wood trim and glitzy metal used in their Business Class cabin won't make it to Premium Economy. I'd downgrade from Business to Premium to get a break from the kitsch!
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  • Andrew

    andyf

    23 Nov, 2016 10:05 pm

    Why is it that the A380 have a 1-2-1 business class layout, but the 777, which is also a long range plane, is 2-3-2?
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  • FLX

    FLX1

    9 Dec, 2016 07:36 pm

    Reasons are @ least partly technical because J in EK's 380 is on the upper deck and the cabin diameter on that deck is much narrower than the main deck on 777.  Moreover, I hv flown on the upper deck of 380 3x(Twice with EK, once with TG) and clearly noticed that cabin's cross-section is very concave....almost attic-like(i.e. wider on the floor, narrower towards the roof) and similar to the 747 upper deck.  Specs-wise, cabin diameter for the 380 upper deck is very similar to or a bit narrower than the 330/340 main deck.

    Not all "long range plane" are designed & configured the same way.
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  • Herman  G

    mancho90

    24 Nov, 2016 02:37 am

    Well... After trying many Premium Economy cabins, with their service and perks, I have to say that there are just few that can called Premium economy and some others that just can be called Light Economy Plus and Economy Plus... I hope some Airlines after doing some big investment they should have the list of what they must have. The truly PE because tehy have the right combination of cabin, service and perks are valuable for those who can't afford J or F class on business travelling: CX, SQ, QF, NZ, VS, VA, AZ & AF...despite they are excellent you see the Business Cabin and make you wish you could be there too...

    BA, JL, NH, ER, CZ, CI, MU and ER are Light Economy Plus... with just some perks, but keep the cabin separated... and they make you feel that you are Premium... mainly for JL, CZand NH with priority boarding and check in...something that BA and MU don't have (until last June)

    LH, AC, CA, SK are just Economy Plus because the combination is not good at all, the cabins are not separated  and if they are, they only do for the first meal in CA and AC...after than is just regular Economy in service in case of AC and CA, food with wider seats... Welcome drink is a horrible juice, seats are not that comfortable, specially in AC and CA... where the bulk head seats  don't have foot support or rest. Those are much cheaper to buy extra leg room seats in economy than upgrade from economy...just not worthy the extra amount.

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    Herb33

  • GregXL

    GregXL

    9 Dec, 2016 12:42 pm

    I have flown QF, CX and LH PE. I wouldn't relegate LH to a lower tier.  Maybe there is some variance in the fleet, but I thought the A380 PE cabin was just as good as CX and QF - and it was separated.  I wasn't too excited but the food, but I don't choose PE to eat. 
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    mancho90

  • Herman  G

    mancho90

    9 Dec, 2016 01:56 pm

    I'm totally agreed but on 16 hrs flight JFK-HKG and don't sleep...the food matters and the welcome drink with real champagne makes differences...Just gives you a great state of min. I have to try the new CX Premium ...we will see.
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  • Mc

    Mc

    24 Nov, 2016 04:53 am

    Given the J product offered by its competitors its difficult to understand why EK has decided to retain a 2-3-2 in J on its 777's. Even just going across the ditch, SYD / CHC return, J class felt very cramped and being stuck in the middle for anything longer than 3 hours would be something I would not want to experience.
    Retaining a 2-3-2 in J suggests to me that any PE that EK might introduce would be also be cramped, perhaps 3-3-3? It would be interesting to see how that might be priced to make it competitive.

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  • Al Vico

    hotwog4all

    9 Dec, 2016 01:00 pm

    Once upon a time first was 2x2x2 and now in some airlines it's 1x1x1 or they have suites. Business was 2x3x2 reclining seats with about 40-50" of space. As biz moved up and closed the gap with first we saw first being phased out of many carriers. Now the remaining first options stand out from most of their biz offerings. But the gap between economy and business is huge. Premium economy will be the new business class and the next phase for premium economy will move the current 8 abreast to being 7 abreast and increasing leg room. Ultimately returing to the once upon a time business class seats

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  • FLX

    FLX1

    9 Dec, 2016 07:48 pm

    For many global inc., there has been an emerging trend in longhaul air travel policy(typically defined as 9hrs or longer) governing almost all staff grades(excluding top executives):  Highest class of travel permitted is PY

    10yrs ago, J as the highest class permitted was the norm in company longhaul travel policy.

    More airlines without PY are noticing this trend spreading and adapt accordingly.  EK is just the latest example.
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  • Stuart Ager

    69Shania69

    10 Dec, 2016 01:01 pm

    I think they are wrong taking the side overhead lockers out of the A380's. They are crazy having a middle seat in business class on the 777-300s, although I love the seats and big screens. They are slow putting in Premium Economy and heaven help anyone in Economy, if they bring in 3-5-3. Sounds like the old yankie seating - nightmare stuff
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  • Serg

    Serg

    12 Dec, 2016 01:02 pm

    "The airline's newest Airbus A380 superjumbos also sport a refreshed business class cabin in which the overhead luggage bins above the window seats have been removed "to create a more spacious and luxurious feel for customers.""
    It would be better if they remove those ugly childish "plastic wood" - IMHO tasteless beyond any verbal expression.
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  • Serg

    Serg

    12 Dec, 2016 01:14 pm

    "Many airlines have been steadfast in pushing back against premium economy for fear of cannibalising business class bookings."
    Unless they introduce flat bed (even lie-flat!)  in PE it will not cannibalize anything. It is still no way a substitute for Business (no proper seat) and not feasible replacement of economy due to ridiculous price structure - it is still just an Economy-small-plus and not even Business-big-minus despite price structure and all efforts by carriers to positioned it as Business-small-minus.
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  • GregXL

    GregXL

    1 Jun, 2018 08:24 am

    The PE seat will be “special”, not even “revolutionary”.
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  • New Mint

    New Mint

    1 Jun, 2018 02:44 pm

    "we will be installing premium economy in those, and it will be an Emirates premium economy, so it will be special.”
    I wonder if it will be as "special" as the Emirates business class seats they introduced on the B777's?

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    hakkinen5

Guest

22 Oct, 2018 02:10 am

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