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One of the world’s premium air carriers is launching an all-new premium economy cabin this week. Emirates, the Dubai-based long haul air carrier, unveiled the design and layout of the new cabin to the public this morning, paired with a handful of updates coming to the carrier’s A380 fleet.

The new cabin, which will come to six of the carrier’s A380s, features 56 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. Seats will come with a 40” pitch, will recline 8” and have a width of 19.5”. Premium entertainment, appointments and service, par for the course at Emirates, are also part of the package.

To put the cabin into context, Singapore Airlines, another international premium carrier, offers a similar cabin on some of its flights with a 38” seat pitch, 8” recline and 19.5” width.

To date, Emirates hasn’t operated its fleet with a premium economy offering. Instead, the carrier relied on lavish first and business class cabins as well as premium service across the board to distinguish its product. Neither Etihad or Qatar, two major rivals to Emirates in the Middle East, operate with premium economy cabins.

As a product, however, the economics of premium economy are starting to become apparent. According to the Financial Times, international premium economy is the most profitable class on a per-square-foot basis among many premium carriers. American, Delta and United, the biggest three carriers in the United States, have all launched international premium economy cabins in the last five years.

Realizing the value of the cabin and with respect to its premium market position, it was thus only a matter of time until Emirates launched its own product. And once the new A380s with premium economy are delivered, Emirates is also expanding the cabin to its upcoming 777X fleet and considering retrofits to existing equipment.


In addition to the new cabins, upcoming A380s will also feature a handful of aesthetic and functional updates to the broader experience. First class cabins will now come with taller doors and wider footprints, giving travelers a slight boost in privacy, while business class seats have been upgraded with new leather and wood appointments. Economy seats have also been upgraded with leather headrests and more ergonomic seating.

All told, the new cabin updates from Emirates seem to make a statement about the carrier’s market position and long term plans for the airline industry to rebound with strength. Already, Emirates has committed to receiving the rest of its order of A380s, a massive airframe that is quickly being retired around the world due to operating inefficiencies and lack of passenger volume. Between a premium fleet and a premium cabin, Emirates should have little problem defending its opulent market position.