Big changes to economy in the works: Emirates president

Upto four new tiers in economy class might see Emirates squeeze additional seats onto its aircraft and zero-baggage fares, Tim Clark said at Aviation Festival in London

New budget longhaul carriers and an obvious demand for lower fares from online customers are leading Emirates to consider a wide range of changes to its economy class offering, according to Emirates president Tim Clark.

The changes, still under deliberation, could bring in up to four new segments in economy class, from basic to premium economy and a new way to price fares including zero-baggage fares.

“I’ve got to find sections in the airplane, which we could almost curtain off, that have their own restrooms and galleys unique for the product. And they’ll have a set of crew dealing with them," Clark was quoted by Skift to say.

Clark insisted that the changes would need to continue to reflect Emirates' premium perception which customers are attracted to.

“What we find is that people want the cheapest price but they also want our brand. They trust us, they want us, and they like us—especially the 380. If you do go for a budget, you want to create the appearance of sameness, even though it’s not,” Clark said. “The trick is to get the seat design right. You get the ergonomics right, and make it slightly smaller and nobody notices the difference,” he said.

Budget carriers have had a marked effect on the industry, which Clark described as "nuclear.” It’s a question of time, the economics are probably more difficult, but it is clear that the place for long-haul low-cost is there.”

The changes under study reflect a need to catch up with changing consumer activity online, according to Clark. "The gaming going on with online booking engines is affecting what we do,” he said.

Emirates' response will rely on technology to re-image the airline's front of house product, said Clark. "IT is legacy. It’s not just about bundling and unbundling, we can learn a lot more about consumers," TTG quoted him to say. "Things are still in their infancy, but boy, is it going to come," he added.

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