Etihad Airways is finally ready to reveal its new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft more than two years after taking delivery of the long-haul plane and promptly putting it into long-term storage as the debt-laden airline cut back its route network and started a painful downsizing process.
In the last few months, however, Etihad finally transferred three of its A350’s from France to Abu Dhabi so that the interiors could be fitted out with new cabins including a brand new and yet to be revealed Business Class suite.
Tony Douglas, chief executive of the Etihad Airways Group has described the new Business Class seat as “absolutely incredible” and as a “Business Plus” product that will allow the A350’s to fly without an expensive First Class cabin in the pointy end of the plane.
This week, Etihad is showcasing its second A350-1000 at the Dubai Air Show and while the airline hasn’t yet officially revealed the interior, the first pictures of the Business Class cabin have now been leaked.
Etihad has opted to ditch its Business Studio seat that features on the airline’s Boeing 787’s and Airbus A380’s and has instead opted for a customised version of the incredibly popular Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat.
The seat has been picked by a slew of airlines from American Airlines to Qatar Airways and a next-generation version of the seat which includes a sliding privacy door was launched by British Airways in March 2019.
Etihad has chosen the suite version of the seat with a sliding door and has added in classic Etihad touches like a bespoke reading lamp and a marble-effect sideboard.
Showing off the new suites to industry insiders, Douglas said Etihad believed that in using the Super Diamond suite, the airline had found a “sweet spot” that was a viable “alternative” to offering a separate First Class cabin.
As well as eschewing a separate First Class cabin, Etihad still ignores the popularity of Premium Economy and has decided to install two mammoth Economy cabins on its A350’s. Several rows at the front of the first Economy cabin will, though, offer a few extra inches of legroom for an additional fee.
Etihad is set to start flying the aircraft next year but routes for the aircraft have not yet been announced. The airline is expected to publish official photos in the coming hours.
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.