Emirates Puts First Refurbished A380 Back Into Service

premium economy

Emirates has introduced a premium-economy cabin for the first time.

Credit: Emirates

Emirates Airline has begun services with the first of its Airbus A380s to go through its major cabin refurbishment program.

The Dubai-based carrier is modernizing the cabins on 67 of the 120 A380s in its fleet. The program will continue until 2024, after which 53 of the airline’s Boeing 777-300ERs will be similarly retrofitted with the new cabin features. The $2 billion project will be completed by 2025.

The first A380 to go through the refresh, A6-EVM, returned to the skies on Jan. 6, flying the Dubai-London Heathrow route.

Premium economy
Emirates' new premium-economy cabin includes 56 seats. Credit: Emirates

The most significant aspect of the refurbishment is the installation of Emirates’ first premium-economy cabin, with 56 seats installed in this section which is positioned on the main deck.

On the upper deck, the program will see the refurbishment of some 728 first class suites and more than 5,000 business class seats will be upgraded to a new style and design, featuring a cream leather upholstery and lighter-toned wood finishing.

first class
The A380's refreshed first-class suite. Credit: Emirates

The entire aircraft has received a new cabin color scheme for carpets and wall panels. Emirates’ signature Ghaf tree motif features prominently throughout the interior.

The second aircraft undergoing renovation is expected to be ready by the end of January. As the project gathers pace, Emirates’ engineers will work on two A380s simultaneously. This will see one aircraft being withdrawn from service every eight days and transferred to Emirates Engineering for the makeover.

Emirates claims that the program constitutes the largest-known aircraft refurbishment project in history. Some 190 new personnel have been recruited to work specifically on the renovation program. Almost 50 partners and suppliers have also hired hundreds of workers to strip the cabins, before re-assembling them with the new seats and components.

“Customers will notice the difference the moment they step onboard—the spacious A380 will look and feel even more impressive and comfortable,” Emirates President Tim Clark says.   

“With our latest interiors and products, this newly refurbished aircraft …enables us to offer more premium-economy seats to meet customer demand. I’m particularly proud that this refurbishment work was designed, conducted and completed inhouse at our facilities in Dubai.”

Alan Dron

Based in London, Alan is Europe & Middle East correspondent at Air Transport World.