Emirates, the flag carrier of the UAE, has taken delivery of the first of three superjumbos scheduled for 2020 as it prepares to launch its premium economy class.
The world’s biggest customer of the Airbus A380s received its 116th double-decker on December 4 with two more A380s scheduled later this month, one of which will be fitted with the long-awaited premium economy offering, Emirates said.
“We look forward to introducing our Premium Economy experience, which will make its debut on an A380 in the coming months, and we will continue to invest in our world-class A380 product experience,” Tim Clark, Emirates’ president, said.
Emirates, known for its luxury premium cabins, onboard shower and lounge, will make its first foray into premium economy when the fitted A380s enter into service.
Impacted by COVID-19
The airline had grounded most of its 115-strong A380 aircraft as the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the demand for air travel globally. The A380 currently flies to a handful of passenger routes including Cairo, Amman, Paris, London, Guangzhou, Manchester and Moscow.
A380 flights have been ramped up recently to four daily on the London Heathrow route and a daily service to Moscow. The double-decker superjumbo is also being used as a “mini-freighter” on select cargo charter operations to transport urgently required cargo across the Emirates network.
Mr Clark said he remained optimistic about resuming more routes served by the superjumbo as demand recovers. “The A380 will remain our flagship for the next decade, and we will re-deploy it on more routes as travel demand returns,” he said.
The A380 delivered on the weekend was powered by a blend of jet fuel and sustainable aviation fuel.
“Sustainability remains very much on our agenda at Emirates,” Mr Clark said. “We are watching developments in sustainable aviation fuel very closely, and we look forward to a time when it can be produced at scale, and in a cost competitive manner.”
Last month, the veteran executive said he expects the airline’s full fleet of A380s to return to the skies by 2022 as travel demand recovers following the distribution of vaccines globally.