Emirates, the world’s biggest long-haul carrier, is investing more than $2 billion to retrofit more than 120 aircraft and improve services in its cabins, starting this year.
The airline is splurging on a major upgrade of cabin interiors, Swiss hospitality training for cabin crew, cinema snacks, updated menus and new vegan choices to take its onboard experience to new heights, it said in a statement on Wednesday.
“While others respond to industry pressures with cost cuts, Emirates is flying against the grain and investing to deliver ever better experiences to our customers,” said Sir Tim Clark, the airline’s president. “Through the pandemic we’ve continued to launch new services and initiatives to ensure our customers travel with assurance and ease, including digital initiatives to improve customer experiences on the ground.
Now we’re rolling out a series of intensive programmes to take Emirates’ signature inflight experiences to the next level.” During the Dubai Airshow in November 2021, Emirates had said it is retrofitting 105 of its Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 aircraft with premium economy cabins and is considering other upgrades to its 777 business class.
In April, the airline said it is spending about $1.3bn on retrofitting 120 jets from its fleet of Boeing 777 ER and Airbus A380 aircraft because it now plans to keep some planes longer than planned.
Emirates on Wednesday said the most significant part of its $2bn investment is an extensive refurbishment of its aircraft interiors. Cabins will be retrofitted with new or re-upholstered seats, new panelling, flooring and other cabin features.
The refreshed interiors will be across first, business and economy classes. Emirates will also install its new premium economy cabins. After the retrofit, the airline will have 120 aircraft offering premium economy seats ― the only airline in the region offering this cabin class.
With its first aircraft scheduled to enter the Emirates Engineering Centre for retrofitting in November, planning work and trials have already begun, the airline said.
New services including Persian caviar and ‘cinema in the sky’
As part of its latest initiatives to improve the onboard experience, Emirates will offer passengers new and improved choices starting from August.
A team of chefs and a variety of suppliers have been assembled to design and deliver a fine-dining experience in the sky. New menus will be served on select Emirates routes in first class, featuring dishes such as pan-fried salmon, trout with moqueca sauce and creole rice, roasted duck breast with orange thyme jus, steamed broccolini and fondant potatoes. New menus will also be introduced to business and economy on September 1.
Emirates’ new vegan menu will cater to the growing numbers of customers pursuing this lifestyle. Vegans, or anyone interested in a healthy plant-based meal, can opt for gourmet dishes such as pan-roasted king oyster mushrooms, jackfruit biryani and sliced kohlrabi garnished with burnt orange. Desserts include chocolate truffle cake with hazelnut, pistachio and gold leaf, or green grape tart adorned with candied rose petals, vanilla custard and berry compote topped with yuzu pearls. Vegan dishes are available to pre-order in all cabin classes.
The caviar experience
Emirates’ first class experience has been upped a notch. Passengers can now have unlimited portions of Persian caviar as part of the dine on demand service, paired with Dom Perignon vintage champagne. Emirates is the only airline with an exclusive agreement to offer the luxury brand on board.
Cinema in the sky
First class passengers can order cinema snacks as they browse through the 5,000 channels on Emirates’ ice inflight entertainment system. The cinema snack menu includes lobster rolls, sliders, edamame and salted popcorn, and can be ordered on demand. All passengers can also put together their own ice experience before their flight by browsing and pre-selecting movies or TV shows on the Emirates app, which can then be synced to ice once they board.
Specialised hospitality training for cabin crew
Emirates has partnered with hospitality management school Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne to develop its hospitality strategy and enhance customer experience. Emirates cabin crew have already begun engaging in intensive training programmes.
Farm to fork
Emirates’ customers departing on flights from Dubai can consume fresh greens harvested from Bustanica, the world’s largest vertical farm and newly-opened $40 million joint venture run by Emirates Flight Catering.