MUMBAI: Over a year ago Emirates, the world’s largest operator of the double-decker A380, kick started the largest known aircraft retrofit project in aviation history with 120 wide-body aircraft cabins to be fully changed__ seats, carpets, colour palettes, wall panels, wood furnishing, etc__along with installation of premium economyseats in a multi-billion dollar project.On Sunday, two of the retrofitted, four-class A380s will depart Dubai for Mumbai and Bengaluru as the airline debuts its premium economy cabin in the Indian market.
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The flights will land into the two Indian cities in the early hours of Monday and depart two hours later for Dubai from Mumbai as flight EK501 and from Bengaluru as flight EK569. The airline already offers the premium economy cabin on flights to nine destinations globally, including New York-JFK, San Francisco, Houston, London-Heathrow, Sydney, Auckland, Christchurch, Melbourne and Singapore. With Mumbai and Bengaluru too joining the list, passengers from these cities bound for the West via Dubai can fly premium economy throughout the journey.The premium-economy class, positioned between economy and business class in terms of price, amenities and comfort, was first introduced in 1991 by Taiwanese airline EVA Air on its Boeing 747-400 aircraft. Next year, Virgin Atlantic and then British Airways launched the premium economy cabin. Currently over 60 airlines offer this product. Emirates introduced premium economy in August last year, when it commenced the 32-month long fleet retrofit program for 67 A380s and 53 B777s, with four aircraft to be retrofitted each month.The premium economy cabins on the Emirates A380 feature 56 cream leather seats located at the front of the main deck and laid out in a 2-4-2 configuration. “The new cabin class provides seats with a generous recline, more legroom, and an elevated dining experience, amongst other luxurious touches. Passengers seeking a premium dining experience can explore a diverse selection of regional menus, featuring an array of local flavours and an extensive beverage selection for premium economy customers,” said the airline adding that the inflight entertainment system with over 6,500 channels has undergone significant enhancements to sport a larger screen and an extensive collection of movies, TV shows, albums in different languages.Mohammad Sarhan, Emirates’ vice president for India and Nepal said the airline’s premium economy has revolutionized travel for a growing segment of travellers. “We’ve received an immense response from customers, who have opted to trade up to premium economy and embraced the new levels of comfort and luxury it provides at great value. In line with the demand we have seen on the ten routes where the product is already available, we anticipate it will be highly-popular in India as well. With the ongoing surge in travel across our network, premium economy allows passengers to savour the perfect blend of luxury and affordability,” he added.“The refurbishments and aesthetic enhancements that can be enjoyed by passengers on their journeys on the retrofitted A380 aircraft include a blend of beautiful designs and new colour palettes, evident throughout the aircraft, in the carpeting, wall panels, and wood finishings,” the airline said