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The end of the A380 for Etihad

March 20, 2021 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

While many of us might have dreamt about it, aviation guru Sam Chui has been fortunate to do it…by that I mean fly in Etihad’s Residence, on board the official airline of the UAE, Etihad’s A380s, made particularly poignant this week in an interview published by The National News with Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas when he said,  “We have now taken the strategic decision to park the A380s, I’m sure it’s very likely that we won’t see them operating with Etihad again.”

As Sam Chui said this is indeed sad as Etihad was one of the last major carriers to receive the A380, from Dec 2014 to 2017, with Etihad’s 10 A380s much younger and arguably fitted out with the best luxury cabins.

The retirement of the Etihad A380 means that two of the most sought-after premium cabins in the skies, The Residence and First Class Apartment, are now disappearing, with Sam Chiu having flown the Etihad A380 in The Residence a total of three times, saying there is no other product in a commercial airline like it, with a three room (living room, bedroom and bathroom) concept allowing up to two persons to travel inside.

Sam Chui said, “I feel particularly sad that such a luxurious A380 has become a victim of the COVID-19 pandemic”, adding,  “I still fondly remember my first time on Etihad A380. It was also the first time I made a vlog that got over 20 million views!

Sam Chiu also said that the Etihad A380 First Class is also arguably the best First Class out there, with just 9 suites all with a separate seat and bed and the middle suite can also be converted into a double bed, making for a double suite style experience.

In the meantime, Etihad plans to operate as a mid-sized carrier, building their operations around smaller twin-engine aircraft, focusing on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner as the “backbone” of their fleet.

At the end of 2020, the airline was operating flights to 50 passenger and seven cargo destinations from Abu Dhabi, representing approximately 35% of their pre-Covid capacity, with CEO Douglas saying, “It’s one of those where you segment how you fight your way through 2021-2022 and we’d do that with the 787s predominantly”, adding that their 40 B787 Dreamliners, Etihad will also deploy 12 Airbus A350s from 2023, with some of their A350’s are currently still parked.

An edited report by John Alwyn-Jones from Sam Chui’s aviation and travel blog.

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