Emirates will introduce a new Airbus A380 cabin interior upon receiving aircraft from its latest order for the double-deck type in 2020.
During a media briefing in Hamburg – where the Aircraft Interiors Expo is being held – the Gulf carrier's president Tim Clark promised a "transformation of the cabin" with these widebodies, to include new lighting, bathrooms and spas.
Emirates will not introduce its new, fully enclosed first-class cabin on the A380 until 2021, however. That cabin was unveiled last year and has been installed on the airline's latest Boeing 777s.
Clark says the first-class suite's installation is "really difficult" and requires extensive certification efforts, which is why the equipment will not be ready when deliveries of the new A380s begin in 2020.
This is also the reason why the airline appears not to have decided whether to retrofit the suites to its existing fleet. Clark says the retrofit would be a considerable challenge "if we do it".
He estimates the update would cost "$30 million per aircraft... maybe more".
However, he describes customers' initial response to the suites as "spectacular".
"Two or three" 777-300ERs have been delivered with the new configuration and are being deployed on routes to Brussels and Geneva.
Both cities are served twice daily from Dubai, but with the current fleet it is possible to offer the new configuration on only half of the flights. Clark says bookings clearly indicate that customers consciously select flights with the new configuration.
The suites will also be installed on on-order 777X and 787 twinjets, Clark confirms. He says the airline's 787-10s will "mainly" be configured with the first-class cabins.
Emirates operates certain routes without first class.
Deliveries of the 777-9 are scheduled to begin in June 2020, Clark adds.