Emirates Airline to invest $2 billion to refurbish fleet interiors, refine food menu

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Dubai’s Emirates Airline announced on Wednesday it would invest over $2 billion to retrofit over 120 planes with new interiors, offer more food options, and sustainability-focused choices.

“While others respond to industry pressures with cost cuts, Emirates is flying against the grain and investing to deliver even better experiences to our customers,” Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline said in a statement.

Emirates airline cabin with food served. (Supplied)
Emirates airline cabin with food served. (Supplied)

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The changes will reflect in “elevated meal choices, a brand new vegan menu, a ‘cinema in the sky’ experience, cabin interior upgrades, sustainable choices and a generous approach to the little touches that make travel memorable,” according to the statement.

A large portion of the investment will reportedly refurbish interiors, retrofit cabins with new or reupholstered seats, add new paneling, flooring and other cabin features. The recently announced Premium Economy cabins will also be installed.

The latter is scheduled for November, with planning work and trials already underway, the airline confirmed in the statement.

For some first-class routes, dishes like the pan-fried salmon trout with moqueca sauce and eole rice, roasted duck breast with orange thyme jus, steamed broccolini and fondant potatoes will be made available, while new menus are also expected on Business and Economy classes by September 1.

The airline is also adding vegan dishes like pan-roasted king oyster mushrooms, jackfruit biryani and sliced kohlrabi, and new desert options in all cabin classes on pre order, “to cater to the growing numbers of customers pursuing this thoughtful lifestyle,” the statement said.

This in in addition to the availability of fresh greens for Dubai-origin travelers harvested from the world’s largest vertical farm and newly-opened $40 million joint venture investment through Emirates Flight Catering.

First class travelers will also have access to cinema snacks including lobster rolls, sliders, edamame, and salted popcorn. Meanwhile, passengers will soon be able to curate their movie experience pre-flight and then sync it with the on-board entertainment system upon boarding.

Some snack options available on Emirates. (Supplied)
Some snack options available on Emirates. (Supplied)

In June, Emirates Airline announced a partnership with MBC-owned streaming platform Shahid to offer over 135 hours of premium on-demand content in the flight cabin’s entertainment system.

The partnership made available 15 exclusive shows on the ‘ICE’ system on board, making it the only other platform to offer this content aside from the subscription-based platform, Shahid.

In May, Emirates Airline posted an annual loss of $1.1 billion, a sharp improvement on the $5.5 billion loss in the previous year, as demand for international travel was boosted by governments easing pandemic-related curbs.

The airline, which only operates international services, reported a 91 percent jump in revenue to $16.1 billion for the year ended March 31 as passenger numbers tripled to 19.6 million.

The state-owned airline said it filled 58.6 percent of seats flown, up from 44.3 percent a year earlier, while the number of destinations it served increased from 120 at the start of the financial year to more than 140 as of March 31.

It was the airline’s second consecutive annual loss and only the fourth in its almost 40-year operational history.

Emirates has forecast a return to profitability this financial year, while Chairman Sheikh Ahmed said then that the Emirates Group, which includes the airline, would too.

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