Since March 24, the majority of Etihad Airways’ fleet has been grounded after the government of the United Arab Emirates banned normal scheduled passengers flights to help stem the spread of COVID-19. More than 100 aircraft, or 80 per cent of the entire Etihad fleet, is now parked up at the airline’s hub in Abu Dhabi.
While Etihad has restarted some very limited flights to a handful of destinations, these are simply repatriation flights to get stranded tourists back home after they became stuck in the UAE. Etihad is hoping further services might be able to restart from April 21 but no one really knows whether this will be possible.
So what do you do once all these unneeded planes are parked up? This is very much dependent on the airline because a plane not flying is a plane not making money. Airlines are burning through cash at a frightening rate – in the last few days, German carrier Lufthansa claimed it was losing €1 million in liquidity every single hour.
So while some carriers might go ahead with long-planned maintenance tasks, many will be trying to reduce costs as much as possible. Standing down all but the most essential employees and delaying projects for as long as safely possible.
Not so, it seems at Etihad Airways. Day and night, around 200 people are currently working on a massive cabin refresh programme, which has already seen 10,000 seat covers replaced and all carpets shampooed and washed. And further work is planned as the crisis drags on.
Check out the video above to see what Etihad has planned.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.