Emirates’ Chairman Sir Tim Clark has confirmed the 36 A380s the airline ordered earlier this year will be delivered with premium economy seating onboard. This marks a departure from Emirates’ strategy of resisting premium economy class over the last several years.
Last September, Clark told Aviation Business Middle East that Emirates “may have underestimated the value” of premium economy. Even then, though, such a product was only in exploratory phases.
Premium economy “remains a hot topic” in the company, but Clark confirmed the new product in the onboard “Emirates World” podcast, that is available at every seatback on Emirates flights.
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 and how we’re designing the product. We’ve just got to make absolutely sure that the maths stack up.
By zones, Clark means destinations. And he’s right: premium economy has worked for some, but not for others (Turkish Airlines comes to mind). Will the match stack up? And will the product be outstanding? Clark only hinted, stating the product would be “special”. Considering Emirates does not have lie-flat beds across its fleet in business class, it better not be too nice…
As an aside, Clark mentioned in the same interview that demand for first class remains strong in the Middle East. He added that the new Boeing 777 First Class product on flights to Geneva and Brussels are always full, and Emirates is “working to get them onto the A380 as soon as possible”.
Emirates has been a long-time holdout when it comes to adding a premium economy class product. I’ll be watching closely to see what Emirates does to differentiate its premium economy class from others.