120 Emirates Aircraft to Undergo $2bn Interior Refurb

Photo Credit: Karam Sodhi/AviationSource

LONDON – Emirates is to take on a large cabin retrofit of its Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s.

Commencing November 2022 the project aims to upgrade all cabins to a new style and design across both variants.

The key point in these cabin upgrades is that Emirates are re-configuring their aircraft to include a premium economy cabin, one that was rolled out across 6 A380s in January 2021. 

In May this year, CEO Sir Tim Clark said this about the rollout:

“Since we first introduced our Premium Economy seats in January 2021, the positive response and demand have been tremendous.”

“We currently have six A380s equipped with this cabin class, which limits our initial deployment, but our intention is to offer this experience to many more markets across our network.”

“This November, we will begin our retrofit programme to install Premium Economy on 67 A380s and 53 Boeing 777s.”

“At the end of the programme, Emirates will have 126 aircraft fitted out with Premium Economy cabins, as well as our latest interiors across other cabins. It is a major investment to ensure our customers continue to have the best experience in the sky.” 

Comprehensive planning and testing started in July 2022 in a bid to streamline the process and work out any kinks ahead of time.

Each cabin was progressively taken apart a piece at a time to understand the complexity of the removal process. The refurb is forecasted to last 898 days.

The Airbus is up first, 67 of them. The project will be run solely by Emirates engineering team and they forecast that they can turnaround one A380 every sixteen days, putting in one thousand man hours per day. 

Once the Airbus are complete they will then begin the 777s, there are 53 of these aircraft to be updated and the team is working on the basis that they can complete 4 aircraft a month. 

The 190 engineers recruited for the project have worked out that both sets of aircraft will require the following resources: 70,000 square metres of leather for the interior, 72,000 square metres of carpets and 108,800 kilograms of paint.

Below outlines how many seats will be overhauled or introduced during the refurbishment:

  • Airbus A380
    • 728 First Class
    • 5,092 Business Class
    • 1,608 Premium Economy*
    • 24,000 Economy Class
  • Boeing 777
    • 272 First Class 
    • 1,702 Business Class 
    • 1.032 Premium Economy* 
    • 13,100 Economy Class
      • *New premium economy class

As with everything Emirates does, they are not doing things lightly in releasing a new cabin class. Premium economy is set to have a dedicated check in desk, plush leather seats with a wood panelled finish, and fine glass & chinaware for drinks and dining. 

New workshops will be built specifically to support this retrofit. This is somewhere where business and economy class seats will be re-upholstered and re-trimmed. All first-class suites will be taken apart and sent to a company specialized in replacing specific components.

A cross functional team continues to work towards this huge project, the team will regularly review the planning process, address any issues and track updates on the procurement, staffing and training associated with the project.

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Jamie Stokes

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