Emirates launches premium economy seats on A380 from Sydney to London, Paris

Emirates has finally brought its long-awaited premium economy seats to Australia.

The seats, launched in January 2021, marked the first time the Gulf carrier offered the “intermediate” cabin class in its 35-year history.

Emirates’ London-Dubai service was first in the rankings, with seats initially offered as discretionary upgrade seats. Now it’s Australia’s turn, with the cabins debuting on its Sydney A380 routes to London and Paris on August 1, and Sydney-Christchurch from December 2022.

The Dubai-based airline will implement a wider rollout of the cabins over the coming months. Six superjumbos have had the seats installed, with plans to gradually upgrade 67 more and 53 more Boeing 777s.

Carriers in the Middle East have been slow to embrace the premium economy, with Emirates chairman Sir Tim Clark once expressing concerns that such a product would cannibalize sales of its more lucrative seats. Now, the airline is betting on rising economy class passengers (rather than falling business).

Since the cabin’s unveiling, its Mercedes Benz-inspired cream-colored leather seats have attracted “tremendous” demand, according to Clark.

“Emirates Premium Economy will be exceptional in its class, with painstaking attention paid to every aspect of the customer experience,” he said.

Upgrading from economy to premium economy, passengers will have an additional two-inch seat cushion and seven inches of leg room to stretch out, larger pillows and screens, a swing-out leg rest and a six-way adjustable headrest.

Business class features have also been incorporated – think a welcome drink, fine china, stainless steel cutlery and upgraded food and drink.

Emirates Divisional Vice President for Australasia, Barry Brown, said the launch was a game-changer for Australia and showed its commitment to the market.

The deployment of the EP is a taste of things to come; the airline has just pledged $2 billion ($2.8 billion) in onboard improvements as part of its most extensive modernization program to date.

Clark says the move runs counter to other airlines, which have conversely cut costs.

All cabins are getting a makeover. This includes unlimited pairings of Persian caviar and Dom Pérignon in first class, new chef-designed menus, updated cabin interiors and revamped herbal offerings. See emirates.com/au/english

Today, the airline is bucking an industry-wide trend to cut ancillary product costs, pledging more than US$2 billion ($2.8 billion) to improve its in-flight experience as part of a massive modernization program.

The new A380 premium economy cabins have 56 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration in seven rows, while the Boeing 777-300ER is expected to have 24 seats.

He finally admitted he “may have underestimated the demand for premium economy”, adding that Emirates’ proposal would be “special”.

It is the only carrier in the Middle East to do so. Etihad Airways opted for Economy Space with more legroom, while Qatar Airways maintained that it had no plans to launch a premium economy product.

Emirates, which only introduced premium economy seats in 2021, won plaudits for its PE seats, available on its daily A380 services to Melbourne and Sydney.

Emirates, which relies on oil-rich markets for a large share of bookings, has previously avoided the industry’s rush for more economy products for fear of cannibalizing sales of more lucrative seats. As oil hit a 12-year low in February after falling by around a third in 2015, the Dubai-based airline is now finding it harder to fill the world’s largest fleet of jumbo jets .

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