DUBAI- If you’ve ever aspired to possess a part of the renowned A380 superjumbo, an opportunity has arisen: Emirates (EK) is set to unveil a limited-edition assortment of luggage and accessories crafted from upcycled components sourced from the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft.
This exclusive collection comprises suitcases, backpacks, handbags, cardholders, toiletry bags, belts, and shoes, all meticulously designed and handcrafted by a team of tailors at an Emirates Engineering facility in Dubai.
Emirates Luggage and Accessories
Set to be available for purchase in 2024, the collection is exclusively crafted on demand, enabling customers to tailor items to their specific preferences or opt for personalized engravings, such as initials.
All proceeds from the sales will be directed towards assisting children in need through the Emirates Airline Foundation.
This initiative is part of an extensive retrofit project encompassing 120 aircraft undergoing a complete interior overhaul. While typical practice involves recycling old cabin components, Emirates distinguishes itself by upcycling materials from First and Business classes for this unique collection.
The assortment includes materials like seatbelts, headrests, leather sourced from A380 lounges, and fur from the lining of cockpit seats.
Emirates reports the recovery of over 30,000 pounds of material from 16 aircraft thus far, with plans to obtain approximately 595 pounds of leather and 1,382 pounds of seat fabric for each refurbished aircraft.
In-House Tailor Made
Several items from the collection were showcased at the Dubai Air Show in November, featuring leather sourced from First Class, Business Class, and Sofa seats, along with aluminum from headrests.
Ahmed Safa, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President for Engineering, states, “We have produced a carry-on case and backpacks which are already garnering a lot of interest. The leather is laundered in our partner facility, then further deep cleaned by hand, then leather-conditioned, and thoroughly disinfected before being made into the case and bags. Brand new lining is added along with the handle and clasps. We have an in-house workshop and a dedicated team in Emirates Engineering where most of this activity happens.
“The idea for the different designs comes from our internal team, who looked up current styles and popular luggage shapes and functional backpacks to create patterns for each piece.”
The work is undertaken by a group called Engineering Maintenance Assistants, an in-house team of 14 tailors usually tasked with the maintenance of cabin fittings. Four of them are exclusively engaged in the initiative, according to Emirates.
When aircraft reach the end of their operational life, they typically undergo recycling by specialized companies that can reclaim up to 90% of the materials for reuse. Emirates had previously organized charity auctions for a few hundred items from one of its retired A380s.
However, the materials utilized for this new collection are sourced from planes still in active service and undergoing refurbishment with redesigned cabins.
The retrofitting process, initiated in 2022 and anticipated to span two years, involves 67 A380s and 53 777s. This comprehensive initiative includes the installation of around 4,000 new seats and refurbishing and upgrading numerous First Class suites and Business Class seats to innovative designs.
History in Making
“Emirates has not undertaken such an extensive aircraft retrofit initiative in the past, so these materials have not been available in significant quantities before,” Safa notes. “Once the retrofit is finalized, we will have no more fabrics to work with. It’s a unique opportunity to own a piece of aviation history.”
The undertaking presented challenges, Safa adds, such as determining how to clean the fur lining from the Captain’s seats without causing damage. “We are now employing an air cleaning method and disinfection,” he explains.
Other airlines have previously introduced collections crafted from upcycled airplane components, with Lufthansa (LH) being one example. Lufthansa released a home furniture and accessories line featuring elements sourced from a retired A340-600.
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