Emirates Announces Premium Economy Cabin Retrofit Program

Emirates' premium-economy seats on display at Dubai Airshow 2021.
Credit: Mark Wagner/Aviation Images

DUBAI—Emirates will retrofit 105 of its widebodies with premium-economy cabins—a class between economy and business—in an 18-month retrofit program to begin at the end of 2022.

Emirates made the announcement at the Dubai Airshow, where its booth included a display of four premium-economy seats.

Emirates’ Dubai engineering center will do the work, which will see premium economy cabins installed on 52 Airbus A380s and 53 Boeing 777s. By the end of the program Emirates will have 111 twin-aisle aircraft with premium-economy cabins.

The airline said it was also considering installing a brand-new business-class product on its Boeing 777s that would have a 1-2-1 seat configuration, providing direct access to the aisle from all seats.

Emirates introduced premium economy last year. The concept is not new—Virgin Atlantic was among the first to provide it—but has grown in popularity with long-haul carriers worldwide after gaining popularity with budget-minded business travelers and leisure passengers willing to pay more for extra legroom and other onboard amenities.

Five rows of 777 economy-class seats located just behind business class will be removed to install 24 premium-economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. On the A380, 56 premium economy seats will be installed at the front of the main deck, also in 2-4-2 configuration.

Credit: Mark Wagner/Aviation Images

The leather seat is 19.5-in. wide and provides up to a 40-in. pitch. It has a wood panel finishing, six-way adjustable headrests, calf rests and footrests. Every seat has charging points, a wide table and a side cocktail table.

By end of this year, Emirates’ A380s with premium economy will be operating on flights to Frankfurt, London Heathrow, New York JFK and Paris.

Panasonic Avionics, meanwhile, announced at the show that it has been selected to deliver a suite of in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems, including 13-in. high-definition seatback screens for Emirates’ premium-economy cabin.

Karen Walker

Karen Walker is Air Transport World Editor-in-Chief and Aviation Week Network Group Air Transport Editor-in-Chief. She joined ATW in 2011 and oversees the editorial content and direction of ATW, Routes and Aviation Week Group air transport content.