How Emirates is carrying out its $2bn A380 and Boeing 777 retrofit project

Cabins are being taken apart piece by piece with the Dubai airline recruiting 190 engineers for the project

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Emirates airline has detailed its plans to carry out a $2bn upgrade to the entire interior cabins of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft.

While the project will officially begin in November, the Dubai company said it has launched its plans with a target to completely retrofit four aircraft from start to finish every month, continuously, over two years.

"Once the 67 earmarked A380s are refreshed and back in service, 53 777s will undergo their facelift," Emirates said.

"This will see nearly 4,000 brand new premium economy seats installed, 728 first-class suites refurbished and over 5,000 business class seats upgraded to a new style and design when the project is complete in April 2025."

Emirates will upgrade carpets and stairs, while cabin interior panels will be refreshed with new tones and design motifs including ghaf trees, which are native to the UAE.

The airline said teams from Emirates Engineering have been "planning and testing extensively, to establish and streamline processes, and identify and address any possible snags".

Trials began on an A380 in July, when engineers took each cabin apart piece by piece and logged every step. Every action was tested, timed and mapped out.

Potential impediments to completing the installation of Emirates’ new premium economy class or the retrofit of the remaining three cabins in just 16 days were flagged and documented for expert teams to review.

New purpose-built workshops will be set up at Emirates Engineering to re-paint, re-trim and re-upholster business and economy class seats with new covers and cushioning.

First-class suites, meanwhile, will be disassembled and sent to a specialised company to replace the leather, armrests and other materials.

The retrofit will involve 40,000 square metres of carpet, 68,000 kilograms of paint, 1,000 man hours per day and 190 engineers recruited for the project.

After the retrofit, the airline will have 120 aircraft offering premium economy seats ― the only airline in the region offering this cabin class.

Emirates has also outlined how it plans to improve services in its cabins.

This includes Swiss hospitality training for cabin crew, cinema snacks, updated menus and new vegan choices.

Emirates’ new premium economy class is currently available to customers travelling on A380 routes to London, Paris and Sydney.

The airline said more customers will be able to experience the premium economy cabins "starting from year-end, as the retrofit programme picks up momentum".

Emirates expects to return to 100 per cent of operations and network capacity in 2023 as demand for travel and tourism recovers.

Updated: August 17, 2022, 10:01 AM
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