Emirates is planning "something different" for its passengers in economy class, according to the airline's chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. A new look will be rolled out towards the end of the year across the Dubai-based airline's fleet, he told Flight Daily News.

"We will give more seat pitch and we are working on something that we hope will turn out to be attractive for passengers," he said. "It is something different." That will be in addition to the airline's planned new first class seat destined to be rolled out when its first Airbus A340-500s enter service later in the year.

Emirates is focussed on service levels in the existing fleet while at the same time planning for its huge fleet of A380 aircraft. So far it has outlined plans for four configurations for the aircraft: a freighter, a 533-seat three-class layout, a 653-seat two-class version and a 500-seater able to fly direct between Dubai and Australia.

"We will tailor the aircraft to different routes," said Sheikh Ahmed.

Having opted for the GE/Pratt & Whitney Alliance engine for its early purchase A380s, it is planning to run a second competition for the latest orders. That puts Rolls-Royce back in the frame but does it make sense to potentially operate a fleet of A380s with two engine types?

"Why not?" said Sheikh Ahmed. "I think with the number of aircraft we will have, it would be ok. We want to open this opportunity to both manufacturers. It will depend on how sharp they will be on the price and the overall deal."

The airline's record orders at Paris come just weeks after it turned in record profits in an airline market characterised by crisis.

Sheikh Ahmed said he attributed the success of the airline partly to the location of Dubai and partly to its growing reputation as a destination. "It is very well known in the region and also internationally.

"Myself and the people of Dubai are very much proud of Emirates and the way it is heading. To get such a positive result makes the whole team very enthusiastic. It is very exciting."

The airline has enjoyed record growth over the years and has no plans to let up now. How will it retain its reputation for quality?

"It is a challenge when you are growing very fast but we have always monitored this very closely," he said. "We will use senior people to check our quality."

The airline has an internal service level target of less than ten complaints per 10,000 passengers carried.

Great sales

At the same time as growing the Emirates fleet, the airline's base airport of Dubai is growing too. Sheikh Ahmed said that the expansion of the airport is on schedule. "It must be ready to be able to take the new aircraft we have on order."

Sheikh Ahmed is also at Paris wearing his other hat as president of Dubai's Department of Civil Aviation which will host the next major airshow - in Dubai in December. Sale of exhibitor space is going extremely well, he said.

Did he think that with the international political situation muddying waters at Paris, Dubai would in a sense benefit from a "bounce-back" effect? "That would be nice," he replied.

Source: Flight Daily News