Etihad Airways Brings Back A380 To The Sky Within Two Weeks

Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, has announced that it will resume flying its Airbus A380 superjumbos to London Heathrow from July 25th, 2023, after more than three years of grounding due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline has 10 A380s in its fleet, each with a unique configuration that includes two luxurious The Residence suites, nine first-class apartments, 70 business studios, and 417 economy smart seats. The A380s will operate on one of the most popular routes in Etihad's network, connecting Abu Dhabi with London, the airport with the most A380s from different operators.

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A gradual reintroduction

Etihad will start with six weekly A380 services to Heathrow (not on Sundays), arriving in London at 06:45 local time. From August 1st, the frequency will increase to 13 weekly flights (arriving at 06:45 and 12:50, with one flight on Sundays). From November 1st, the airline plans to operate three daily A380 flights to Heathrow, as part of its winter schedule. The flights are subject to change depending on travel restrictions and demand. According to Flightradar24, two of Etihad's A380s (A6-APG and A6-APH) have been repositioned from storage in Tarbes, France, to Abu Dhabi in May and June 2023, respectively. These are likely to be the first two aircraft to reenter service.

Etihad's CEO Antonoaldo Neves said:

"We know this will be welcomed by our guests who love Etihad’s incredible A380 and its award-winning cabins. 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."

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A unique product

Etihad's A380s are known for their premium product, especially The Residence, a three-room suite that offers a private living room, bedroom and bathroom for up to two guests. The Residence also comes with a dedicated butler and a personal chef. The first-class apartments are spacious private suites that feature a large leather armchair and an ottoman that converts into an 80.5-inch long fully-flat bed. The business studios offer direct aisle access, a reclining seat that converts into a fully-flat bed and an 18-inch touch screen TV. The economy smart seats have adjustable headrests, lumbar support and a seat pitch of up to 33 inches. The A380s also feature The Lobby, a lounge and bar area located between the first and business class cabins, where guests can relax on leather sofas, enjoy refreshments and watch a large TV with a USB connection.

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A comeback for the A380

Etihad received its first A380 in December 2014 and its last one in May 2017. Before the pandemic, the airline used the A380s on six other destinations besides London: Sydney, New York JFK, Mumbai, Melbourne, Paris CDG, and Seoul Incheon. However, in November 2020, Etihad grounded its entire A380 fleet as part of its strategy to cope with the crisis and focus on smaller and more efficient aircraft. Etihad is not the only airline that has brought back its A380s after a long hiatus. Other carriers such as Emirates, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, and British Airways have also resumed or announced plans to resume flying their superjumbos in 2023, as the demand for air travel recovers and the restrictions ease. The Airbus A380 is the world's largest passenger aircraft, with a capacity of up to 853 passengers in a single-class configuration. It entered service in 2007 and has been delivered to 15 airlines so far. However, Airbus announced in 2019 that it will end the production of the A380 by 2021, due to lack of orders and changing market conditions.

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