This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways plans to start scheduled passenger services on May 1 under a reduced schedule to remain in place until June 30, subject to the status of United Arab Emirates travel restrictions, the company announced Thursday. Meanwhile, Etihad has revised the launch date of its inaugural service to Vienna from May 22 to July 1.
Etihad continues to operate a growing schedule of repatriation flights and special cargo services carrying perishables, pharmaceuticals, and medical supplies. The airline has repatriated nearly 600 UAE nationals on return services.
The airline now uses 22 Boeing 787 and 777-300ER passenger jets for repatriation and cargo services and has readied five more to support its five 777-200F freighters.
Since March 25, the airline has operated some special passenger and cargo flights, including passenger/belly-hold freight flights to Amsterdam, Bogota, Brussels, Dublin, Frankfurt, Jakarta, London Heathrow, Manila, Melbourne, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Seoul Incheon, Singapore, Tokyo Narita, Washington, D.C., and Zurich. It operates as many as 100 turnaround flights per week to 32 destinations.
In addition to normal scheduled cargo services, it has flown special freighter and humanitarian missions to 22 cities and plans to introduce more “in the coming weeks.”
With 80 percent of the fleet grounded, Etihad Engineering has used the opportunity to perform maintenance on 96 passenger airplanes, including 29 Airbus A320 and A321s, 10 Airbus A380s, 38 Boeing 787s, and 19 Boeing 777-300ERs. The program’s activities range from minor maintenance tasks such as seat repairs and IFE system updates to moving forward scheduled engine changes and major modifications.
“The monumental challenges being faced by all airlines, and our customers, have been beyond measure,” said Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas. “However, we remain cautiously optimistic and will push ahead with our plans to resume normal flying, while striving to better serve and support our customers and our employees.
“While the intention is to assume a ‘business as usual’ approach to the restart of our operations, the aviation landscape has changed, and how it will look month by month is difficult to predict. This has necessitated a fundamental shift in focus for us. However, the cumulative gains achieved by our ongoing transformation, and the unwavering support of our shareholder, has left us in a relatively strong position to withstand any instability. We will pivot on this and act with agility to seize opportunities we may not have previously considered.”