The Gulf carrier with a reputation for luxury is said to be eliminating the first class cabins in favor of greater capacity during the busy holiday travel season.
Emirates plans to substantially increase the number of seats available between Gatwick Airport (LGW) and the Gulf carrier’s Dubai International Airport (DXB) hub during the upcoming holiday travel season. For air travelers used to a certain level of opulence, however, the extra capacity is going to come at the cost of first-class amenities.
According to Route Exchange, Emirates will add thousands more seats between LGW and DXB during the final two months of the year. While the airline will be adding extra daily flights, much of the boost in capacity will come from flying two-cabin outfitted Airbus A380 aircraft on the popular route. Using equipment with no first-class cabin will allow Emirates to shoehorn more passengers on each trip.
So far, the airline has announced plans to replace three-cabin aircraft with the much higher-capacity two-cabin equipment for about a dozen scheduled flights leading up to the new year. Dozens more seasonal flights added in November and December will also utilize two-cabin aircraft capable of seating up to 615 passengers.
So far, the move away from first-class service to and from London’s second busiest airport seems to be limited to a finite number of seasonal flights, but while Emirates has built its reputation on luxury and service, management has made no secret of its desire to trim costs and boost efficiency as the demand for ultra-high-end air travel experiences continues to wane. The first reconfigured two-class A380s with increased seating capacity were added to the airline’s fleet in January of last year.
The route chosen by Emirates to continue the experiment with two-class service equipment makes sense to one-time rival, former Monarch Airways Managing Director Tim Jeans.
“Whatever Gatwick would like people to think, premium passengers still tend to use Heathrow,” Jeans explained to The Independent. “Gatwick is fine for lower-yielding leisure passengers but overall airlines will have a better and more profitable mix of premium and leisure traffic on Heathrow services.”
Emirates still plans to offer a full slate of flights with three-class cabins to and from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) – at least for the time being.
There aren’t very many areas where Gulf Airlines and North American carriers see eye-to-eye. The superfluousness of a first class cabin on every flight is, however, slowly starting to look like one of these areas.
“It’s effectively the same service,” Current PayPal CEO and former United Airlines CFO John Rainey famously said of the difference between first-class and business-class cabins in 2014. “You’ve got a very similar product, very similar seat, even the food service is very similar.”