Emirates launching premium economy class in NZ with A380 on Christchurch-Dubai route

New Zealanders will soon have yet another option for how they travel around the world as Emirates brings its premium economy class to Aotearoa.

The Dubai-based airline is launching the new class here on its Airbus A380 aircraft, which will be used on the Christchurch-Dubai route when it restarts in December.

Travellers can start booking premium economy seats from June 1. They will be available on routes including Sydney, London and Paris from August 1.

Tickets will cost around 10-15 percent more than the top economy fares, Emirates said. 

Chris Lethbridge, Emirates Regional Manager for New Zealand, told Newshub the airline's premium economy is so good it rivals the business class offering of some other airlines.

"We're really happy with the seat. It's a full leather seat with wood panelling; it has extra recline and legroom, so it's quite similar to the business class seats," he said.

"Then there's all those other little business class-style trimmings around meal selection, getting stainless steel cutlery, chinaware and linen when you're served your meal, the pre-departure wines, the dedicated check-in - it all adds up and I think customers will feel like they're in business class."

Emirates' premium economy seats offer a pitch of up to 40 inches and recline of eight inches; calf and footrests; and a six-way adjustable headrest.

Passengers will be given a welcome drink in "fine glassware" when they board and the meal service is promised to offer "generous meals made with seasonal ingredients and regional influences".

Emirates premium economy entertainment.
Photo credit: Emirates

In terms of entertainment, each seat has a 13.3-inch screen with up to 5000 channels of movies, TV shows, news and music.

"It's quite special, it's a project the company has been working on for a number of years. It's part of our constant product enhancement programme we work on to make sure that we lead the aviation world," said Lethbridge.

"It's an additional cabin to sell to people who will happily upgrade from economy for those added comforts.

"For people who haven't travelled the last couple of years planning a big trip and wanting to spend a bit more, there will be excitement just to be back on an aeroplane - but then to have that added excitement of a brand-new premium economy product will be another reason to enjoy it."

While exact pricing will be released in the coming weeks, Lethbridge was happy to give an idea of what Kiwis should expect.

"If you look at our economy class tickets, they are around $3000 return to Europe and our business class tickets are around $8000. Somewhere in the lower end of in between those numbers would be a pretty good indication of what a passenger could expect to pay for premium economy."

Emirates premium economy meal service.
Photo credit: Emirates

A search on Skyscanner conducted by Newshub on May 10 looking at a premium economy Auckland-London return trip in October showed airfares from other airlines ranging between NZ$4506 and $8612.

Emirates launched its premium economy product in January, 2021. In the 2021 SkyTrax Airline Awards, it was ranked the ninth best premium economy class in the world, behind the likes of Virgin Atlantic in first place, Singapore Airlines in second and Air New Zealand in sixth.