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TravelEmirates expands retrofit plans for Airbus A380, Boeing 777 jets

Emirates expands retrofit plans for Airbus A380, Boeing 777 jets

Emirates is already in the midst of a massive makeover of its fleet. Now, the Dubai-based carrier is planning to give even more of its long-haul jets a cabin face-lift — one that will ultimately bring its state-of-the-art premium economy seats to more cities.

Last week, Emirates announced it would embark on retrofits of many more wide-body jets than it had initially planned: The carrier now plans to refit an additional 43 Airbus A380 jets and 28 more of its Boeing 777s.

That’s on top of the 67 superjumbo jets and 53 777s Emirates already had slotted for interior makeovers — nearly two dozen of which have already wrapped up.

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Altogether, the plans for a total of 191 retrofits signal “a clear commitment to elevating the customer experience with a best-in-class suite of products across every cabin,” Emirates president Tim Clark said in a statement announcing the news.

Airbus A380, Boeing 777 retrofits planned

It’s a time of major change for Emirates’ fleet, to be sure.

Most significantly, the carrier has orders in place for hundreds of new jets, which will significantly grow its aircraft tally in the coming years.

But it’s also been aggressive, in recent years, in devising plans to modernize its existing jets.

Emirates first announced plans to refit 120 wide-body jets in the late 2010s as part of a $2 billion investment — plans that would see it become the first Gulf carrier to add a premium economy cabin.

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Airbus A380 retrofits

To date, Emirates has finished retrofits for 22 of its A380s. The early results are promising: The carrier was the only airline to take home two TPG Awards in 2023, earning recognition for best first class and best premium economy products — the latter of which features spacious seats and ergonomic touches like calf rests and generous reclines.


Today, you can fly Emirates premium economy on the A380 to four U.S. airports: New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).

Boeing 777 retrofits

Next, Emirates will begin refitting the first of its 777 jets in July, with the work expected to take about two weeks per plane.

The interior overhauls will include all-new business-class seats with an updated (and much-improved) 1-2-1 configuration, along with a new premium economy cabin featuring 24 seats.


With last week’s announcement, the carrier now plans to increase the scope of its retrofit plans by nearly 60% … a revelation that came before Emirates had even completed half the work on its A380s.

Premium economy expansion

Between these retrofits and new anticipated aircraft deliveries, Emirates expects to fly jets with premium economy to 42 cities globally by February 2025.

300-plus jets on order

Emirates’ plans to modernize and grow its fleet extend well beyond retrofits.

At last November’s Dubai Airshow, the carrier placed another $58 billion in orders for wide-body jets, including Boeing 777s and 787s and more Airbus A350s.

In all, the carrier has 260 jets in its fleet today, but 310 are on order.

Its order book includes commitments for:

  • 65 A350s
  • 205 777s
  • 35 Dreamliners

Emirates’ first A350 is expected to enter service in September.

Bottom line

Though Emirates’ order book and retrofit plans amount to massive future spending commitments, it’s worth noting the carrier just reported on Monday a record $5.1 billion in profits for its 2023-24 year. During that period, the airline served 51.9 million passengers, it said — up 19% over the prior year.

With all of these changes to its fleet, more U.S. travelers should ultimately get the opportunity to fly in Emirates’ new (or overhauled) cabins in the coming years. That could be good news for travelers hoping to transfer credit card points to the Emirates Skywards program for a premium economy seat — or those hoping to score a lie-flat seat in Emirates’ iconic A380 first-class cabin.


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