DUBAI, UAE, 19 August 2022: Emirates has kick-started its plans to upgrade the entire interior cabins of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft – two of the largest commercial aircraft types in service today.

This ambitious project, representing a multi-billion dollar investment to ensure Emirates’ customers “fly better” for the coming years, officially commences in November and is managed entirely by Emirates’ Engineering team.

The target is to completely retrofit four Emirates aircraft from start to finish every month, continuously for over two years. Once the 67 earmarked A380s are refreshed and back in service, 53 777s will undergo their facelift. This will see nearly 4,000 brand new Premium Economy seats installed, 728 First Class suites refurbished and over 5,000 Business Class seats upgraded to a new style and design when the project is complete in April 2025.

In addition, carpets and stairs will be upgraded, and cabin interior panels refreshed with new tones and design motifs, including the iconic ghaf trees native to the UAE.

No other airline has handled a retrofit of this magnitude in-house, and there’s no blueprint for such an undertaking. Therefore Emirates Engineering teams have been planning and testing extensively to establish and streamline processes and identify and address any possible snags.

Trials began on an A380 in July, where experienced engineers took each cabin apart piece by piece and logged every step. Every action was tested, timed and mapped out by removing seats and panelling to bolts and screws. Potential impediments to completing the installation of Emirates’ new Premium Economy Class or the retrofit of the remaining three cabins in just 16 days were flagged and documented for expert teams to review and address.

As part of the programme, new purpose-built workshops will be set up at Emirates Engineering to repaint, re-trim and re-upholster Business and Economy Class seats with new covers and cushions. First Class suites will be carefully disassembled and sent to a specialised company to replace the leather, armrests and other materials.

From the trials, engineers discovered several unexpected solutions. For instance, existing food catering trucks could be easily repurposed to move parts destined for refurbishment from the aircraft to the workshop for their refresh, as these vehicles had doors of the right width and offered sufficient space.

Until the retrofit programme starts in earnest in November, a cross-disciplinary team has been assembled to regularly review the planning process, address any issues, and track updates on various aspects of the project, such as procurement, staffing, and training.

Emirates’ new Premium Economy cabin class, which offers luxurious seats, more legroom, and service to rival many airlines’ business offerings, is currently available to Emirates customers travelling on popular A380 routes to London, Paris, and Sydney. More customers will be able to experience the airline’s new Premium Economy cabins starting from year-end as the retrofit programme picks up momentum.

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(Your Stories: Emirates)


  1. Then I shall wait until the refurbished planes are finished !! Two flights this year ,Nice Bangkok ,which I booked with Emirates as a member were very disappointing. Business class prices but not business class quality. What happened? I’ve never had this before with them. No storage room for a handbag which had to go in the overhead lockers, uncomfortable seats , unappetizing meals. I had the strong impression that they had brought out their oldest planes !! As did my neighboring passengers. Staff were very good as always.


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