Emirates unveils redone 777, increases U.S. flights

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Emirates' refurbished Boeing 777-200LR aircraft has a business class but no first class.
Emirates' refurbished Boeing 777-200LR aircraft has a business class but no first class. Photo Credit: Robert Silk

FORT LAUDERDALE -- Emirates will increase frequencies on flights to the U.S. this month for the first time since reducing U.S. service last April in response to Trump administration policies.

"Demand is back up," Emirates vice president of North American sales Matthias Schmid said. "We see very, very strong demand, and we are again in a position to manage some moderate growth in the U.S. network."

On March 25, Emirates will increase frequencies on its Dubai-Fort Lauderdale and Dubai-Orlando routes from five times per week to daily. Then on June 1, the carrier will begin using an Airbus A380 jumbo jet on its Houston route, switching out the Boeing 777-300.

Last April, Emirates cut frequencies on five of its 12 U.S. routes, saying a decline in demand was caused by the carry-on ban the U.S. had instituted on electronics larger than a laptop and the Trump administration's attempt to ban travel to the U.S. for nationals of six Muslim-majority countries.

The carry-on ban ended last July.

Schmid made his remarks as Emirates showed off its newly reconfigured Boeing 777-200LR to South Florida media and travel agents at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport on Tuesday. The carrier invested $150 million to reconfigure its 10 777-200LRs, then launched the new product on March 6 on the Fort Lauderdale route. Fort Lauderdale is the only U.S. route where Emirates will fly the reconfigured aircraft, however.

The refurbished 777s no longer have a first-class cabin. Instead, they have a business-class cabin of 38 seats and a 264-seat economy cabin.

Schmid said that eliminating first class allowed Emirates to increase the total seats on its 777-200LRs from 266 to 302.

The business class features entertainment screens that have been enlarged from 17 inches to 23 inches and seats that have been widened by two inches. The cabin is laid out in a 2-2-2 formation, getting rid of the middle seats. However, there are two seats per row that don't have aisle access, a configuration that other airlines are moving away from.

Schmid said that eliminating middle seats was a bigger priority for business-class customers.

"I think we are listening to the feedback that we get," he said.

Economy seats in the aircraft have been refurbished with new colors. Each seat has leather headrests and flexible side panels.

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