Emirates (EK) is now an all A380 and B777 airline.The first in the world to do so.
The airline just retired it’s aging A330/A340 fleet just a few weeks back. Even if those older generation aircraft (not that old in the grand scheme of things, ranging between 10-15 years old) were mostly plying regional routes within the Middle East and to Afghanistan, Pakistan and other lower yielding destinations such as Accra in Ghana and Entebbe in Uganda, it’s nice to see the airline offer a more consistent product with flat beds fleet wide rather than those ghastly recliners in Business on the old Airbus fleet.
This should prove to be a good business decision for Emirates as well as having such a unified fleet drastically cuts down on day to day operating expenses, maintenance costs and crew training as all crew will now be cross trained on the 777 and 380 fleets. It’s also good for fleet planning as the fleet is much more fluid to meet passenger demand on certain marginal routes – it’s now much easier to swap in different configurations and aircraft on routes depending on load factors and season.
So now, speaking of configurations: Emirates has introduced their newest layout on the A380.
Currently there are two variations on the EK A380 – the traditional (and much more common) one that the airline uses on most of their routes – 14 First Class Suites, 76 Business Class flat beds and 399 seats in Economy on the main deck. The second layout that was introduced later in the airline’s A380 delivery cycle was the two class layout with no First Class cabin and a less dense Business Class cabin at only 58 seats. Coach gets 567 seats with the cabin being split between the main deck and upper deck. These aircraft operate flights to a limited array to cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Manchester, Bangkok and Birmingham – cities were load factors are high and premium demand is limited.
The new layout will still be in a three class configuration with the same premium seats as the original layout, but Economy Class will get an additional 28 seats at 427. Not to worry – it’s not that Emirates is reducing seat pitch and cramming more seats into the cabin, but rather are doing away with the rear crew rest on the main cabin and shifting it to below cabin. Better for the crew as it’s more private and has less sound pollution and it also frees up valuable real estate for the airline to earn more revenue.
While the additional coach seats will lower operating costs for the airline, it’s unfortunately highly unlikely that fares will drop for passengers traveling on this aircraft. However, another great addition will be the addition of next generation overhead bins, eliminating the side bins to create more space and headroom for passengers giving a more ‘airy’ feel. The lack of these side bins will be countered by the fact that new technology that Airbus has designed in coordination with Emirates will have new bins installed that have 28% more space than their current counterparts and will only be on the center portion of the aircraft. Expect to see this on other airlines’ A380s and next generation Airbus aircraft in the near future.
Seven of these new aircraft will arrive before year’s end, with many more scheduled for the coming year. EK hasn’t made it official whether they’ll be revamping their older aircraft with the new bins or configuration but we assume not given the costs that would be involved with that project.
It’s not clear where this newest configuration for the A380 will be flying to, but given the nature of the layout it seems as though it’ll be doing most of the premium heavy trunk routes that Emirates has, such as London Heathrow, New York JFK and Toronto Pearson.
This is the beauty of Emirates – the airline is extremely dynamic and reads the market well – and are also very quick to react to market forces when they occur. The new bins should improve the passenger experience and will keep our appetite satiated as we await with bated breath what innovation EK will reveal with their new ‘Super First Class’ in the coming months.