Emirates unveils US$2 billion investment to improve inflight experiences

While Air New Zealand has announced 100,000 passengers will be shuffled onto other flights to maintain service levels, rival Emirates has announced a US$2 billion (NZ$3.1 billion) investment into upgrading its services.

The Dubai-based company said it is improving its inflight customer experience including retrofitting over 120 aircraft with the latest interiors, plus an array of other service improvements across all cabins starting in 2022.

"While others respond to industry pressures with cost cuts, Emirates is flying against the grain and investing to deliver ever better experiences to our customers," Sir Tim Clark, president Emirates Airline said.

"Through the pandemic we've continued to launch new services and initiatives to ensure our customers travel with... assurance and ease.

"Now we're rolling out a series of intensive programmes to take Emirates' signature inflight experiences to the next level."

That will include what the airline describes as "elevated meal choices", including a brand new vegan menu and a 'cinema in the sky' experience starting from this month - although some of the perks will be limited to those paying big bucks.

New menus will be served for First Class featuring dishes such as pan-fried salmon trout with moqueca sauce and creole rice, roasted duck breast with orange thyme jus, steamed broccolini and fondant potatoes.

New, slightly less exotic, menus will also be introduced to Business and Economy in September.

The vegan menu is available to pre-order in all cabin classes and is designed to cater for the growing number of passengers demanding the option.

Vegans, or anyone interested in a plant-based meal, are offered handcrafted 'gourmet' dishes such as pan-roasted king oyster mushrooms, jackfruit biryani and sliced kohlrabi garnished with burnt orange.

The new vegan menu on Emirates
Photo credit: Supplied / Emirates

Desserts are said to be a decadent affair with choices of chocolate truffle cake with hazelnut, pistachio and gold leaf, or green grape tart adorned with candied rose petals, vanilla custard, and berry compote glistening with yuzu pearls.

The new 'cinema in the sky' experience allows First Class customers to order cinema snacks as they watch the inflight entertainment system. Those include lobster rolls, juicy sliders, edamame and salted popcorn, all of which can be ordered on demand.

The biggest investment is the upgraded cabin interiors across all classes. The retrofitting will include new or reupholstered seats, new panelling, flooring and other cabin features.

After the retrofit, Emirates will have a total of 120 aircraft offering Premium Economy seats and enhanced interiors and features across all other cabins.

The work is due to begin in November, the airline said.