Emirates is one of the biggest airlines in the world. As Aviation Turkey magazine, we hosted Thierry Aucoc - Senior Vice President CO Europe Emirates Airlines today.
Şebnem Akalın: First of all, thank you very much for your time. Emirates is one of the biggest airlines in the world. Can you tell us about your fleet, your current destinations, and your future plans such as the new airplanes or destinations will be added soon.
Thierry Aucoc: We operate a young and modern fleet with an average age of 9 years, currently consisting of A380s and Boeing 777s. Emirates fleet comprises 260 aircraft including 116 A380s out of which more than 90 are deployed on 50 routes, and 123 Boeing 777-300ERs, 10 Boeing 777-200LRs and 11 freighters.
Demand for flights across the aviation industry is currently higher than the supply of available aircraft. Emirates is well-equipped to counter this challenge with its future order book for around 200 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing.
In November 2022, we launched our $2 billion retrofit program to upgrade the entire interior cabins of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft – two of the largest commercial aircraft types in service today. This ambitious project, representing a multi-billion-dollar investment to ensure Emirates’ customers “fly better” for the coming years is managed entirely by Emirates’ Engineering team.
The team will be working round the clock to completely retrofit Emirates aircraft continuously for over 2 years. Once the 67 earmarked A380s are refreshed and back in service, 53 777s will undergo their facelift. This will see nearly 4,000 brand new Premium Economy seats installed, 728 First Class suites refurbished and over 5,000 Business Class seats upgraded to a new style and design when the project is complete in April 2025.
In addition, carpets and stairs will be upgraded, and cabin interior panels refreshed with new tones and design motifs including the iconic ghaf trees which are native to the UAE. No other airline has handled a retrofit of this magnitude in-house.
We are continuously working to provide the best products for our customers. Although there is high travel demand at the moment, we never take our customers for granted and are always working hard to deliver the best experience on ground and inflight.
In terms of capacity, we’ve restored most of our operations and plan to grow our network further with the launch of a new destination this year, Montreal, in July.
At the end of our last financial year, 31 March 2023, the Emirates network comprised 150 destinations across six continents, including 9 cities served by its freighter fleet only. Emirates carried 43.6 million passengers (up 123%) in 2022-23, with seat capacity up by 78%. The airline reports a Passenger Seat Factor of 79.5%, compared with last year’s passenger seat factor of 58.6%; and a 7% increase in passenger yield to 37.5 fils (10.2 US cents) per Revenue Passenger Kilometre (RPKM), due to a change in cabin and route mix, fares and currency.
We currently offer more than 30% capacity increase for flights to and from Turkey compared to 2019. For the time being, Emirates has three daily flights between Dubai-Istanbul, a total of 21 frequencies weekly. The flights are operated by wide-body aircraft, including our flagship A380 on one daily service, while the other two are Boeing 777-300ER. During the 2022-2023 financial year, over 70.000 passengers were carried from Istanbul to Dubai by Emirates. For the new financial year of 2023-2024, Emirates aims to carry more than 130.000 passengers.
Şebnem Akalın: This year again Emirates won the ‘Best Airline Worldwide’ from Business Traveller Middle East Awards 2023. What can you tell about this, with which services your customers put Emirates on top of the world.
Thierry Aucoc:It is an honor to be awarded as the “Best Airline Worldwide” for the tenth year in a row. Emirates also earned high marks for constantly delivering better experiences through its best-in-class service and leading industry products winning Best First Class, Best Premium Economy, and Emirates’ First Class Lounge was named Best Airport Lounge in the Middle East.
This is a testament to Emirates' commitment to providing top-notch services to our customers and reflects the airline’s commitment to investing, innovating and reshaping the way people think about, and enjoy air travel.
Less than two years after its debut, Emirates’ Premium Economy has become the industry ‘gold standard’ for this cabin class, continually wowing customers thanks to its spacious seats and pitch, luxury finishing and other numerous meticulous touches.
Overall, Emirates' commitment to providing exceptional service, its extensive network of destinations, and its focus on innovation and technology are all factors that have contributed to our success and recognition as the 'Best Airline Worldwide' at the Business Traveller Middle East Awards 2023.
Şebnem Akalın: I had a chance to fly with A380 from Istanbul to Dubai and attended to Dubai Expo. In Emirates pavilion, I saw unbelievable technology behind the sky’s Emirates is working on. Can you tell us more about the technology your customers will be interested in. What will we see in 10 years when we are flying with Emirates?
Thierry Aucoc: Emirates is known for its commitment to innovation and technology, and this is reflected in the airline's aircraft, in-flight services, and its presence at events like Expo Dubai.
Emirates was one of the first airlines to introduce on-board showers for first-class passengers on its A380 aircraft. The airline also makes significant investments in our in-flight entertainment and connectivity, offering flyers an unmatched variety of the latest movies, TV shows and music content through our award-winning ice system. We were the first to install in-seat video screens back in 1992.
Our Boeing 777 Gamechanger aircraft are also equipped with unique and industry-leading inflight technology including virtual windows that offer passengers a real-time view of the skies, as well as temperature and lighting control in First Class suits.
Emirates will continue to invest to enhance the travel experience for our customers. This could include advancements in in-flight entertainment, improvements in seating and cabin design, and new technologies that improve the efficiency and safety of the airline's aircraft.
Over the past 3 years, we accelerated our digital capabilities and introduced an integrated biometric path that gives passengers a seamless travel journey from specific check-in to boarding gates, improving customer flow through the airport with less document checks and less queuing. We’ve also significantly enhanced our apps, allowing passengers to check-in, book their meals and special requests and set up their own music playlist and sync it with the inflight entertainment system when on board, all done seamlessly and with the most convenience.
Last month, in the heart of Dubai’s bustling financial district, Emirates launched a new City Check‑in and Travel Store, featuring our first check-in robot, Sara. This facility enables customers to conveniently book travel, check-in for flights, drop their luggage, shop for travel essentials, and save time at the airport.
Emirates is building an advanced training facility to accommodate 6 Full Flight Simulator Bays (FFS) for our future Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X aircraft. The brand new, 63,318 sq. ft. facility is slated to open in March 2024. This US$ 135 million investment to build a new pilot training centre will ensure Emirates' readiness to commence its pilot training ahead of the delivery of its new aircraft fleet starting from 2024. The building will be equipped with the latest, technologically advanced simulators to provide the best training for pilots, while using solar power to reduce energy consumption.
Emirates is committed to innovation and technology, and customers can look forward to continued advancements that improve the travel experience and reduce the airline's environmental impact in the years to come. Emirates' recruitment drive is high for IT professionals with a variety of job roles that will support the company's plans and vision in aviation technology and innovation. This is an exciting opportunity for individuals with a passion for technology to join a leading airline and contribute to its ongoing success.
Şebnem Akalın: Some airline companies have initiated various positive actions to increase awareness, sometimes with the inboard services such as reusable plastics or sometimes with using 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel. In which part of protecting the future we will see Emirates?
Thierry Aucoc:Emirates is committed to environmental sustainability and focus our efforts on three areas: reducing emissions; consuming responsibly; and preserving wildlife and habitats.
Our Environmental Sustainability Executive Steering Group meets at least quarterly to set direction and review progress on each of the focus areas at a corporate level. At a working-group level, various internal committees meet regularly to co-ordinate and implement sustainability actions.
The newer the aircraft, the more fuel-efficient they are. Emirates has a good starting position here with a young and efficient wide-body fleet. We are also investing millions in new generation aircraft with 200 units on order.
We actively implement ways to reduce unnecessary fuel burn and emissions while maintaining the highest safety standards. Last year, we successfully implemented Green Standard Operating Procedures (Green SOPs) by our pilots, which include measures such as: using reduced engine taxi, idle reverse, prudent judgement on extra fuel, optimised flap landing, inflight speed management to minimise fuel burn, and use of direct routing opportunities. In 2022-23, Green SOPs and other operating initiatives helped to reduce fuel burn by more than 50,000 tonnes and carbon emissions by over 160,000 tonnes.
We recently announced a US$200m sustainability fund for research and development (R&D) projects focused on reducing the impact of fossil fuels in commercial aviation. This is the biggest single commitment by any airline on sustainability, with funds to be disbursed over 3 years. Emirates will identify partnerships with leading organisations working on solutions in advanced fuel and energy technologies.
On 31 Jan, Emirates conducted a test flight with 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) of an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER. SAF is a synthetic aviation fuel sustainably produced from non-fossil raw materials and is seen as a key technology for the decarbonisation of aviation. In contrast to conventional fuels, SAF is not produced from fossil sources and is therefore a more sustainable alternative. By using SAF, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by up to 80%.
We have active recycling initiatives which last year, saw more than 500,000kg of glass and plastic retrieved from our flights for recycling. That's almost the weight of a fully loaded A380, the airline's flagship. Last year, Emirates also saved 1,000 tons of paper by switching to digital menus.
Şebnem Akalın: What would you like to add to our readers?
Thierry Aucoc: Emirates is committed to supporting Turkey's aviation sector and its local community through partnerships with local entities. The aviation industry plays a critical role in the economic development of countries, and partnerships between the various aviation players can lead to increased stability, innovation, and growth for communities. We look forward to continue working closely with our partners to further support the local aviation sector and contribute to the development of the local community