BANGKOK, 13 June 2024: To commemorate World Environment Day and as part of an environmental strategy that includes a commitment to consuming responsibly, Emirates is repurposing more than 50,000 kilogrammes of materials from 191 aircraft undergoing a cabin interior refresh. 

Emirates will give new life to the materials and is personally producing thousands of handmade children’s backpacks and schoolbags, which will be donated to community schools and organisations supporting early education across Africa and Asia this year.

To minimise waste, Emirates’ Engineering team found a way to repurpose the fabrics from the economy class seats of 22 Airbus A380 aircraft that have completed the retrofit process. 

The project recovered 5,205 kilogrammes of scrap materials, including seat fabric of 95% wool and 5% nylon composition with a flat weave structure sourced from Germany and Ireland. The materials were identified as ideal for upcycling due to their durability and non-flammable nature, and a decision was made to make high-quality backpacks for children in need.

In the workshop at Emirates Engineering, a dedicated team of tailors creatively designed a whole range of backpacks for children of different ages and worked with the Emirates Corporate Communications, Marketing & Brand team to identify charitable entities, schools, orphanages, and foundations across Africa and Asia, where the bags are set to be distributed in the coming months.

The world’s largest-ever known retrofit project is a multibillion-dollar investment from Emirates, which kicked off in August 2022 with the intention of fully re-fitting 191 aircraft and elevating customer experience. This includes 110 Airbus A380s and 81 Boeing 777 aircraft, which together have the potential to provide up to 50,000 kilograms of waste fabrics. As and when the aircraft is furnished with new fabrics, there is also scope to recover the excess ‘cut off’ materials for repurposing and upcycling.

From the 22 Airbus A380 aircraft that have been completely retrofitted, materials from First and Business Class cabins such as leather, aluminium, and wool have already been repurposed. The Aircrafted by Emirates range is a limited-edition capsule collection of luggage launched in November 2023 and designed in-house by Emirates Engineering, which sold out in weeks. Proceeds from the first sale of the not-for-profit collection Aircrafted by Emirates amounted to more than 70,000 AED, and after minimal operational cost deductions, were donated to Emirates Airline Foundation supporting humanitarian projects around the world.

Managed entirely by Emirates’ Engineering team, the retrofit is a considerable project that will take years to complete and provide multiple opportunities for upcycling. This will see 21,814 economy seats installed, 8,104 brand new premium economy seats installed, 1,894 first-class suites refurbished, over 11,182 new generation business class seats installed, as well as the opportunity for more creative upcycling initiatives to be launched.

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