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Emirates starts multi-billion-dollar retrofit project

written by Liam McAneny | November 2, 2022

Emirates has started work its multi-billion dollar retrofit project, beginning with an Airbus A380.

The retrofit program is expected to take up to two years and will involve work on 120 aircraft.

Each aircraft will undergo an entire cabin interior upgrade, which is set to include an overhaul of the airline’s premium economy seating areas.

At an expected price tag of several billion dollars, the program is designed to significantly improve the customer experience of passengers on the carrier.

The first aircraft to undergo the retrofit is one of Emirates’ airbus A380s. The aircraft in question, designated with registration A6-EVM, was taken to Hanger E in Dubai International Airport after completing a flight from Cairo.

Currently almost three years old, the A380 will have the entirety of its cabin interiors upgraded by a specialist team of engineers and technicians.

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The first aircraft is expected to take approximately 16 days, which will include the dismantling of the entire cabin interior before being reassembled from the ground up.

Emirates has meticulously planned the project, with engineers from the carrier requesting 2,200 part numbers and placing 12,600 purchase orders. These purchases are the tip of the iceberg, being earmarked for just the initial phase of the retrofit program.

The preparation for the retrofit included a test run on an A380 in July, with engineers taking apart the entire cabin piece-by-piece and logging their experiences the entire way. The whole process was recorded and mapped out, even down to timing the length of the work.

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Purpose-built workshops have been set up by Emirates for the majority of the general work in repainting and re-upholstering business and economy class. First-class suites will be repaired and upgraded off-site however, being disassembled and sent to a specialised company in order to replace the leather, armrests and upholstery.

To expedite the process, Emirates has hired 190 additional staff to work on the retrofit. The airline has also engaged the services of 62 partner companies for different aspects of the work.

The project will cover 120 aircraft in total, with 67 A380s and 53 Boeing 777s being given a facelift.

A key aspect of the retrofit will be the removal of 88 economy seats in the forward section of the main deck on the A380, which will make way for expanded premium economy seats. So far, Emirates only offers premium economy on flights to three destinations, Sydney, London and Paris.

Following the upgrades, the premium economy seats will be offered on flights to five more destinations, including Melbourne, New York JFK, Auckland, Singapore and San Francisco.

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