Etihad Airways plans to reintroduce four Airbus A380 aircraft on its Abu Dhabi-London Heathrow route starting in summer 2023, freeing capacity for increased frequencies on existing routes and the launch of additional destinations.
“The move follows a surge in demand for air travel across the airline’s network and customer feedback for the return of one of the most remarkable commercial flying experiences in the sky,” the airline said.
Credible evidence emerged in early 2021 that Etihad had considered scrapping its A380 experiment entirely. The aircraft entered service with the airline in 2014. Airbus data shows Etihad took delivery of 10 A380s, but the airline did not make clear whether they would all remain in service.
Etihad’s A380s feature a premium suite dubbed “The Residence,” as well as three cabin classes: nine first-class “apartments,” 70 business-class seats, and 405 economy-class places. Some 80 economy-class seats offer a seat pitch of up to 36 inches.
“The A380’s reintroduction provides a further boost to Etihad’s capacity into the key UK market, with a knock-on effect for the wider [Gulf Cooperation Council] and Indian subcontinent that will bring more visitors to the city of Abu Dhabi,” said Mohammed Al Shorafa, chairman of Etihad Aviation Group.
Etihad said it has begun preparing the aircraft to fly again, involving the recruitment and training of A380 teams including pilots, cabin crew, and technical ground staff. The addition of five Airbus A320s will support the A380s’ return to service.
“We know this will be welcomed by our guests who love Etihad’s incredible A380 and its award-winning cabins,” said Etihad Airways CEO Antonoaldo Neves. “We have decided the time is right to return some of our A380s into the fleet to satisfy the demand, which has made them financially viable once more. We look forward to welcoming our guests again on board this remarkable aircraft.”
Additionally, AIN understands from information gleaned at the Middle East Business Aviation Association show in Dubai this week that former Etihad CEO, Tony Douglas, has accepted a position as the CEO of Riyadh International Airlines.