While the greater number of air travellers gaze on the Middle East luxury arms race, wondering what’s in it for them, Emirates has dropped the first hint that it will respond to the ‘apartment’ concepts unveiled by neighboring UAE upstart Etihad this week.
Emirates president, Tim Clark, has told the Wall Street Journal that it is working on bedrooms, with room service.
No-one would be surprised that Emirates is going to do ‘something’. The question is what else might it do, especially in mass air travel in economy class.
At the moment Emirates, like its rapidly expanding Middle East competitors, has a split personality when it comes to economy class, which is in wide 10 across seats in its A380s, and in the forthcoming A380s being introduced this year by Etihad and Qatar, yet tighter in all their other airliners.
This results in some cities in the unwary consumer paying the same economy fare for the same distance in a less comfortable jet flown by the same carrier.
This may not continue to be the case once the intention of Airbus to offer a higher density seating format on its A380s becomes a reality.
None of the Gulf carriers currently offers a premium economy format, which suggests that while they are competing for the custom of the few who are prepared to pay huge sums to fly, the contest to win the high volume traffic that is needed to survive as 21st century airlines hasn’t really entered its next phase.