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An Emirates 777-200LR on the ramp in Dubai (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Hisham Qadri)

Emirates To Upgrade Interiors of 120 Aircraft As Airline Expands Fleet

Emirates recently announced that it is undertaking its largest fleet retrofit project ever, involving 67 Airbus A380s and 53 Boeing 777s. This project is part of a multibillion-dollar investment that Emirates is making as a part of the “Fly Better” campaign that began in November 2018.

The retrofit will officially begin in November and will be managed entirely by a specially hired team of 190 Emirates engineers who will carry out a full retrofit of four aircraft each month, continuously for more than two years. The retrofit project will be completed in April 2025, and nearly 3,000 new premium economy seats (which will be added for the first time in the 120 aircraft involved) 728 refurbished first class suites and over 5,000 business class seats upgraded to a new style and design will be installed.

Premium economy on some Emirates A380s arrived in December 2020. Since then, the last Airbus A380s to be delivered by Airbus to Emirates have been flying without selling these seats, but offering them free of charge to travelers. As of June 2022, ticket sales began. Premium economy differs from economy in giving a few more inches for the legs and a larger and more reclining seat than in economy class, despite still not having access to the bar on board the A380, which is reserved for business and first class.

A Planned Expansion

Emirates’ fleet currently consists of over 250 aircraft, 118 Airbus A380s (the world’s largest operator of this type of aircraft) and 134 Boeing 777s (including 10 Long Range and 124 Extended Range, again Emirates is the world’s largest operator of this type of aircraft). Emirates’ goal, however, is not only to modernize its fleet, but also to expand it to nearly 450 aircraft, having already ordered 50 Airbus A350-900s, 115 Boeing 777Xs, and 30 Boeing 787-9s, currently awaiting delivery. Emirates also has its own Emirates Executive fleet, which offers a private jet option to its customers, consisting of a single Airbus ACJ319, and its own Cargo fleet, but these will not be involved in this retrofit project.

The first tests to implement the retrofits began in July on an A380, where engineers disassembled the cabin piece by piece, recording each step, timing and mapping each action and then repeating it with the other aircraft in the fleet. According to Emirates, a complete retrofit of an aircraft takes 16 days and 1,000 hours of work each day for the team involved. In addition, new workshops have been specially built at Emirates Engineering to repaint, reupholster and upholster Business and Economy Class seats with new covers and cushions. The First Class suites, on the other hand, will be disassembled and sent to a specialized company to replace the leather, armrests and other materials.

The total cost of the investment for Emirates is about $2 billion, and Emirates has announced that it will take about 900 days for the project to be completed if there are no slowdowns.

Author

  • Vincenzo graduated in 2019 in Mechanical Engineering with an aeronautical curriculum, focusing his thesis on Human Factors in aircraft maintenance. Currently, he is pursuing his master's degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Palermo, Italy. He combines his journalistic activities with his work as a Safety and Reliability Engineer at DMD Solutions.

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