Etihad Airways will finally start flying its Airbus A350-1000 aircraft by the end of June 2022 the airline revealed on Tuesday but chief executive Tony Douglas warned that the introduction of the aircraft would still depend on the airline’s continued pandemic recovery.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline has a total of 20 Airbus A350s on order and has so far taken delivery of five of the ultra fuel-efficient jets.
Etihad has had the A350s in its fleet for more than two years now but the debt-laden airline immediately placed them into storage as soon as they were delivered because the jets were surplus to requirements.
Douglas is now hoping to make the A350s an integral part of Etihad’s revamped fleet alongside its Boeing 787 Dreamliners and hopes to “progressively” phase the first five A350s into service throughout 2022.
The first will start flying commercially at some point during the second quarter of the year, although Douglas has still not disclosed what routes the planes are likely to serve.
In fact, officially, few details have been publicly released about Etihad’s A350 fleet, although the airline showed off the plane at the Dubai Air Show last November and some photos and information were leaked.
As a result of those leaks, we know that Etihad won’t be installing a First Class cabin on the planes and instead, the airline has opted for a large Business Class cabin running the entire length between the first and second set of cabin doors.
From the second set of doors, the rest of the plane is dedicated to Economy Class seating, running all the way back to the aft doors in the A350’s standard 3-3-3 configuration. Etihad has eschewed the opportunity to fit out the aircraft with a proper Premium Economy cabin, although the airline will offer some Economy Seats with. a few inches of additional legroom.
The Business Class seat is a customised version of the incredibly popular Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat which is used by a number of airlines including American Airlines and Qatar Airways.
Etihad has opted for a version of the seat which comes with a sliding door and which was first debuted by British Airways in 2019.
On Tuesday, Etihad revealed it had managed to trim its annual losses down to $476 million from an all-time-high of $1.73 billion in 2019. The airline has embarked on a five-year transformation plan to slash costs, divest unprofitable units and focus the business around its core long-haul airline business.
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.