Emirates is working to revamp the first-class suites on its Airbus A380s, having formally unveiled the new private cabins on a Boeing 777-300ER.
The Dubai-based airline's first-class modernisation – featuring six suites in the -300ER – is effectively a precursor to the cabin which will feature on its new 777X from 2020.
It has a single -300ER fitted with the cabin and will install the suites on around half a dozen -300ERs still to be delivered, although it has yet to decide the extent to which it might retrofit the current fleet.
But president Tim Clark says the suites on the A380 are a "formidable task", adding that they would reduce first-class accommodation on the type from 14 to 11.
"We'll get around to it as soon as we can," he says, adding that the A380 version is a "work in progress".
Clark says the inspiration for the suites derives from the operator's private Airbus ACJ319, and follows a relaxing of criteria allowing the use of enclosed compartments.
"The regulators [initially] wouldn't let us do that," he says, adding that the airline has faced "multiple challenges" with ensuring compliance with requirements for lighting and emergency evacuation.
Such is the width of the suite that Emirates has adopted a 1-1-1 configuration, but the centre suite will feature artificial windows which will receive a live image transmission from external cameras.
"It's such high definition that it produces a better image than the naked eye," says Clark.
Emirates has drawn on automotive expertise from Mercedes-Benz for the interior design. Clark says the automotive industry "uses space in a way that excites and excels", and the Mercedes influence shows up in various details including the materials and the design of switches.
The suite design features a seat which shifts further to the outer wall as it reclines into a bed, providing the passenger with additional space, and the personal accessories include a pair of binoculars to explore the outside scene.
Emirates will initially use the newly-equipped 777-300ER on routes to Brussels and Geneva but Clark indicates that candidate destinations include Chicago, Brisbane or Perth. Retrofit of other 777s would depend, among other criteria, on the life remaining in the jets.
Clark says that, despite a trend for airlines to reduce their first-class offering, the demand for such premium cabins on Emirates is still "very strong" and adds: "First class remains core to what Emirates does."