Emirates airline to offer premium economy from 2020

FILE PHOTO: An Emirates Airlines Boeing 777-300ER plane prepares to take off at Lisbon's airport, Portugal April 24, 2018. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo

DUBAI (Reuters) - Emirates is to launch a premium economy class on its aircraft from 2020, according to its President Tim Clark, which could help the carrier attract more higher spending travellers.

Premium economy costs more than economy class tickets, but less than business class. Its introduction by Emirates could increase competitive pressure on rival Gulf airlines Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways.

Premium economy will be on the Airbus AIR.PA A380s that Emirates ordered this year, of which the first six will be delivered in 2020, Clark said in a company podcast on its website.

Dubai-based Emirates bought 20 A380s in January and has purchasing options for an additional 16 which it has said it would buy.

“We will be installing premium economy into those and it will be an Emirates premium economy, so it will be special,” Clark said in the podcast released this month.

Premium economy often includes more legroom and other benefits at a higher cost compared to the standard economy class fare but is cheaper than business class or first class tickets.

Emirates has considered adding premium economy since at least 2016 as lower oil prices dented Middle East travel demand, and the product could woo price-sensitive corporate travellers.

Other airlines that offer a premium economy product include All Nippon Airways Co Ltd 9202.T, Qantas Airways Ltd QAN.AX and British Airways ICAG.L.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell. Editing by Jane Merriman