By Hemal Gosai
Emirates Increases Service in Asia
As we start a return to normalcy after lockdowns and travel restrictions due to COVID-19, travel isn’t what we expected. Business travel is still returning but leisure travel is returning in full force, often in greater numbers than before the pandemic.
Many leisure travelers are also becoming premium travelers resulting in unprecedented business and first-class loads across airlines are boosted by leisure travelers spending more for better travel experiences.
Emirates is seeing a lot of this across their global network and this is giving the airline reason to increase frequency or up-gauge the aircraft flying on certain routes. This is particularly true for flights to Asia.
Taiwan is reopening to the world soon following the termination of mandatory COVID-19 quarantine restrictions for arrivals. Emirates is planning daily service between Taipei and Dubai using Boeing 777 aircraft shortly after the restrictions are lifted, this is an increase in flights from the current four weekly flights. It’s expected that the end of the COVID restrictions will result in a significant increase in travel to Taipei and will also increase connectivity from Dubai for Emirates passengers.
Prior to COVID Emirates regularly flew an Airbus A380 in a two-class configuration to the Asian city. It’s likely that demand may be sufficient enough to start seeing the A380 heading to Taipei again from Dubai.
In addition to Taiwan reopening borders, Japan is set to remove daily arrival caps and mandatory COVID-19 testing and quarantine rules for arriving passengers.
Emirates has seen a significant spike in bookings for flights to Narita and Osaka from Dubai, this has resulted in an up-gauge of the aircraft used to service Japan’s Narita airport.
The airline will reintroduce the A380 on their flights to Narita as a way to quickly provide more capacity to the high-demand location. Osaka will see daily service operated by Boeing 777 aircraft.
India is seeing some of the A380 love as well. Emirates flies to Bengaluru from Dubai three times a day using B777s. Starting on October 30, Emirates will replace one of those B777s with an A380. This will result in daily service with the A380 supplemented by two additional flights using B777 aircraft, an overall capacity increase.
This will make Bengaluru the first South Indian city to be served by an Emirates A380 and the second Indian destination for the Emirates A380 after Mumbai.
The airline has been accelerating the deployment of its flagship A380 aircraft across the world, currently the A380 flies to 30 destinations with more to be announced in the future. Emirates is planning on deploying the A380 to over 40 destinations by March 2023.
During this expansion, Emirates is also planning on spending $2 billion to refresh airline cabins. AirlineGeeks recently had the opportunity to speak to Essa Sulaiman Ahmad, Emirates’ Divisional Vice President, USA and Canada about this refresh and what it means for the fleet.
Emirates will be retrofitting the interiors of 67 A380s and 53 B777s at a rate of one aircraft rolling out into service every 16 days.
The update will involve 5,092 A380 business class seats and 1,702 B777 business class seats along with their respective cabins. This goes from re-upholstered seats, new paneling, upgraded carpets, stairs, and flooring. All will be updated to reflect the new tones and design motives Emirates is prioritizing for this generation of seats.
Seven hundred and forty-eight first-class seats on the A380 and 272 first-class seats on the B777 are also due for upgrades. This means new leather, updated armrests, new paneling, flooring, and other design features. The fully enclosed suites found on a subset of aircraft will not be put on additional aircraft but many look and feel aspects of these seats will be incorporated in first-class cabins across the fleet as part of the retrofit program.
This retrofit will also extend the service life of some of Emirates’ existing aircraft according to Essa. This is an additional way the airline plans on coping with delays to the Boeing B777X program for which Emirates is a launch customer.
Additionally, the airline is revamping menus in first class and offering unlimited portions of caviar for first-class passengers. It has also entered into an exclusive deal to serve Dom Perignon on flights, the reason behind Singapore Airlines dropping the champagne from their first-class offerings.
The airline is also investing millions of dollars into the development of vegan choices for passengers in all cabins. It has influences from Chinese, Indian, and Arabic cuisines and will be available for pre-order. New vegan offerings will also be expanded into Emirates lounges. A significant portion of these plant-based offerings will be sourced through Bustanica, the world’s largest hydroponic farm located just miles away from Emirates Flight Catering in Dubai.
Some of the example meals available:
- Creamy Spinach & Avocado Mousseline with marinated tofu, blanched snow peas, radish, asparagus, pomegranate seeds, courgetti ribbon and sriracha oil
- Multicolored Quinoa with caramelized pear and celeriac puree, roasted cauliflower, glazed carrots, sauteed kale and lovage pesto
- Barley Risotto with Mushrooms served with sundried tomatoes, buttered chestnuts, blanched broccolini and toasted pumpkin seeds
- Dark Chocolate Custard Cake with strawberries
- Lemon Tart with coconut cream
- Chocolate tofu cheesecake with strawberry compote
The menu items are imaginative and actually highlight vegetables instead of just using things like plant-based meat to duplicate meat-based dishes. Usually, vegan meals on flights are incredibly boring so it’s refreshing to see genuinely imaginative dishes available for people with dietary restrictions that are on the same level as normally catered dishes.
Emirates is putting its best foot forward as the world recovers from the COVID-19 lockdowns. From increased frequencies and larger aircraft to a completely refreshed fleet Emirates has big plans as it aims to go beyond where the airline was in 2019.