Emirates will finally introduce premium economy class later this month with the delivery of its latest A380 from Airbus.
The airline has eight more A380s to be delivered over the next year and all will feature the airline’s new premium economy which President Sir Tim Clark says is a world-beater.
“Ït looks brilliant,” Mr. Clark told AirlineRatings.com.
It is positioned on the main deck, ahead of dividing galleys and lavatories between L1 and L2 doors.
“The seat pitch is 38 inches and the seats are set 8 abreast, instead of 10 in economy,” said Mr. Clark.
The seat, which is yet to be revealed, is built by Recaro says Mr. Clark.
Mr. Clark said that a number of A380s and 777-300ERs are being refitted and all 777X aircraft will have the product. It is expected that the 787s and A350s will also feature a premium economy zone.
While Emirates has adopted premium economy its near rivals Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways have shown no interest to date.
Premium economy was first introduced on a large scale by British Airways in the 1990s, although British Caledonian had a premium economy in the upper deck of its 747s in the 1980s and Virgin Atlantic had it as part of its offerings in the mid-1980s.
However, it is only in the last 10 years that airlines have really embraced the class because of concerns that business passengers would downgrade rather than economy class passengers upgrading. The experience has been that the latter is the case.
In 2002, then chief of British Airways, Sir Rod Eddington, told the author confidentially that the airline’s premium economy (club class) was a big hit. Mr. Eddington was keen for that information not to pass to his competitors.
Today most major international airlines have a premium economy product and it is seen as the new battleground for passengers’ wallets.
One of the best premium economy products is that of Air New Zealand, which has won numerous awards for its generous seat pitch and business class like service.
There are some stark differences in premium economy products with some airlines, such as Air New Zealand, having it as an adjunct to business class, while others have it linked to economy class as an afterthought.