Emirates To Retrofit Premium Economy On All Boeing 777-300ERs

What is sure to be an indication that its new Airbus A380 premium economy is a success, Emirates is planning to retrofit all of its Boeing 777-300ERs with the same cabin. The news comes straight from the airline’s president, Sir Tim Clark, who sat down for an interview with Sam Chui.

Emirates 777s
Emirates has 124 Boeing 777-300ERs in its fleet. Photo: Getty Images

124 Boeing 777s to be retrofitted

According to an October 19th article by Sam Chui, Sir Tim Clark states that his airline has a plan to retrofit 124 of its Boeing 777s with premium economy, “those that aren’t scheduled to go out of service that is…” The airline has exactly 124 Boeing 777-300ERs, signaling that the cabin retrofit will take place on this sub-type of aircraft, with Emirates also currently operating 10 Boeing 777-200LRs.

“… we’re going to do the whole lot. It’s a very expensive operation, one that comes at a time when cash is king, but nevertheless, to move forward, we’re going to do that,” Clark states in his September 2021 interview.

Emirates currently has four Airbus A380s fitted with the relatively new cabin class, which was introduced at the very end of 2020. The remaining undelivered A380s will also be equipped with this cabin as well.

All future Emirates aircraft to get premium economy

During the same interview, Clark also confirmed that all new aircraft types eventually joining the Emirates fleet will also have a premium economy cabin. Types include the Boeing 787, the Boeing 777X, and Airbus A350.

The Boeing 787-9 and the Airbus A350-900 will both begin arriving at the Middle Eastern carrier in 2023.

And then there’s the new and yet-to-enter-service Boeing 777X. When it comes to the new jet, ongoing delays have left Clark frustrated with the lack of certainty over when the aircraft will start to arrive. In an April 2021 interview with Simple Flying, Clark suggested that even Boeing’s latest projection could be false, indicating that a 2025 arrival would not be completely unexpected.

Premium economy class currently only exists on a small handful of Emirates’ Airbus A380s. Photo: Emirates

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What does this mean?

Clark’s confirmation of the cabin retrofit tells us a few things about the Emirates fleet plan.

Firstly, it indicates that the airline will be hanging on to its Boeing 777-300ERs for quite a few more years. The average age of this sub fleet, according to Planespotters.net, is 8.6 years old. The oldest of these joined the airline in 2006, making them 15 years old. The airline’s youngest 777-300ERs are around three years of age, being delivered to Emirates in 2018. While it’s no surprise that the airline will retrofit its newer -300ERs, news that even its oldest jets will get the same treatment shows the airline’s longer-term commitment to these aircraft.

Secondly, Clark’s comments regarding the expense of this undertaking tell us that the airline sees an excellent opportunity in offering this level of service. Indeed, if premium economy seats weren’t selling as well as the airline had hoped, it’s possible they wouldn’t go “all in” the way that they have with these 777 retrofits.

Is experiencing premium economy on an Emirates aircraft on your to-do list? What do you think of the airline’s plan to install the cabin on its 777s? Let us know by leaving a comment.