DUBAI (Reuters) - Dubai airline Emirates [EMIRA.UL] joined forces with Mercedes-Benz and motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson to launch its new first-class suites on Sunday, inspired by the styling of luxury car interiors.
Emirates, which was the first airline to put showers on commercial jets, rolled out the futuristic design at the start of the Dubai Airshow.
“This is the first time we have seen anything like this in the civil aviation world,” Emirates President Tim Clark said.
The six fully enclosed cabins for its Boeing (BA.N) 777 jets feature seats that recline into flat beds and a 32-inch television.
B/E Aerospace, recently acquired by Rockwell Collins (COL.N), is the supplier of the seats.
Emirates said it spent “many millions” of dollars developing the new premium section over several years.
“The investment is an awful lot of money,” Clark said, declining to disclose exactly how much the airline had spent.
Emirates has placed high-definition cameras outside the planes, enabling passengers sitting in the middle of the first class cabin to have a window-like experience.
The airline has recruited Jeremy Clarkson, co-presenter of Amazon car show Grand Tour, for their advertising campaign to promote the new first class.
“You may not like him, but most people find him amusing, sometimes a little irritating, but he is very impactful,” Clark said.
Clarkson was dropped from co-presenting BBC’s Top Gear in 2015 after he physically attacked a producer.
The size of the suites will reduce the number of first- class seats on Emirates’ 777s from eight to six.
Clark said Emirates was studying how to add them to its A380 fleet, and dismissed skepticism of first class by other airlines, telling reporters that there was strong demand for the premium class including on routes to China, Paris, and London.
Some carriers have reduced the size of their first class, or dropped it altogether in favor of business class and a premium economy class product.
Reporting by Alexander Cornwell, editing by Larry King