Emirates pushes back introduction of premium economy

Dmitry Birin

The newest addition to the Emirates‘ cabin selection spectrum, premium economy, has been hinted about since 2016. The president of the Middle East carrier, Tim Clark, finally confirmed in 2018 that new seating arrangements were coming in 2020. The premium economy was to enter service together with the airline’s newest Airbus A380 order, as the carrier had signed a $16B deal for 20 firm and 16 options for the Super Jumbo.

On June 5, 2018, Clark added that the 777 would also receive premium economy seats, hinting that Emirates was to introduce the newest class together with the 777X in June 2020. However, as General Electric GE9X suffers issues in the high-pressure compressor and the 777X cargo doors seem to be doing the DC-10, the plan now appears to be long-stretched. While the manufacturer said that “at this time we do not expect that this will have a significant impact on aircraft design or on our overall test program schedule”, GE has to redesign the problematic component, delaying the first test flight of the newest Triple-Seven version.

During a media briefing in Dubai, Clark expressed doubts about whether Emirates “will receive it by June 2020”, delaying the introduction of the premium economy cabin. Clark is mainly concerned about the reliability of the engine powering the 777X, as GE is yet to figure how to deal with the GE9X problems.

In general, the president of the carrier is wary of new aircraft from both Airbus and Boeing, because of the reliability issues of the turbojets powering them. Clark was very straightforward when he spoke with reporters on September 4, 2019, including jabs at airframe and engine manufacturers. He reiterated that the airline won’t take up new deliveries unless the companies producing aircraft turn things around.

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