Emirates' boss in New Zealand says there's strong demand from Kiwis willing to spend more than $10,000 apiece for first class travel.

Chris Lethbridge said the airline was selling first class suites for around $12,000 to Europe.

The airline has launched a number of fare promotions around its direct Auckland-Dubai service.

Besides private suites, showers (on A380s) and food on demand, passengers are currently being offered Dom Perignon worth around $500 a bottle.


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''We are always pleasantly surprised at the demand for First Class. People have got a taste of it on the Tasman," he said.

"More people are wanting to travel in comfort - people are surprised at how within reach it is in their budget."

While some other airlines have done away with First Class, Emirates has stuck with it and it is a big part of the airline's brand, which valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance puts at US$7.7 billion, the most valuable in the world.

Lethbridge said Kiwis who flew at the very front of the plane included company
owners and retired couples who want to treat themselves to something from the bucket list.

"If you did a line up you'd never guess," he said.

The airline had not seen any impact of the dairy downturn.

''We haven't seen it yet but we're mindful of the fact of a potential downturn."

He said next year could be a big one for rugby tourists coming to New Zealand.

"Lions tours are always strong for us, we have a strong association with rugby so there'll be a real opportunity."

The direct Auckland-Dubai service starts early next month and will use a Boeing 777-200LR.