Emirates, the world’s largest international airline, is looking at another revolution in the cabin with low frills economy fares at one end and a premium economy product at the other.
Speaking to AirlineRatings.com at the International Air Transport Association AGM in Sydney, Emirates president Sir Tim Clark said that many passengers had been telling the airline that they just want a basic fare without all the frills like baggage and food.
“We have many, many passengers who travel great distances with just a backpack,” he said.
“Like the software engineer living in Seattle working for Amazon who just wants to fly home to Hyderabad to visit his family for three days.
“He just comes on board with a small backpack – no more.”
Sir Tim said the airline now “had back of office computing power to deliver exactly what the passenger wants and unbundle the fares.”
“This is not about extracting more out of our passengers it’s about giving them what they want,” he said.
“We recognize the demand for passengers who just want a bit of this and bit of that.”
Sir Tim said that the airline could offer a cheaper baseline economy fare with 30 to 50 add-ons giving passengers the ability to totally customized their journey to their needs.
This is part of a total review of economy pricing and product.
At the same time, Sir Tim confirmed that the airline is proceeding with a premium economy which will be installed from 2020.
“We have not defined the seat quite yet but we have a favorite,” said Sir Tim.
“We have been looking at premium economy for a long time and obviously we need to do something.”
But Sir Tim said that the airline needed to get the balance right between business class and economy class.
“There is a groundswell of passengers saying, they want to pay more for better seats, exclusivity and better food,” he said.
On the A380 superjumbo, Emirates will have premium economy at the front of the main deck with 56 seats.
The smaller Boeing 777 will have about 28 seats.
Premium economy will be in a dedicated cabin but passengers will not have lounge bar access on board but they could buy it, Sir TIm said.
All new aircraft delivered from 2020 will be fitted and the airline will refit most of its fleet.
Sir Tim also told media that the airline would make its A380 business class standard across the entire fleet.