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Etihad Airways is axing Airbus A380 flights from Melbourne, and with them the superjumbo's superbly spacious first class 'Apartment' suites.
The Gulf carrier and Virgin Australia partner will pull the plug on the A380 from October 29, 2017 – just 16 months after commencing the daily superjumbo service between Melbourne and its Abu Dhabi hub.
In its place on flights EY460/EY461 will be a Boeing 777-300ER, which represents a significant downgrade for passengers: both first class and business class on the Boeing are a generation behind the suites and seats of the Airbus A380.
Of course, it's on first class that the difference will be most keenly felt: Etihad's A380 Apartment suites are widely considered to be the world's best first class cribs due to their 3.8m² footprint with seperate armchair and bed...
... and appointments such as a chilled minibar, personal wardrobe, private vanity...
... and of course a shower that's exclusive to residents of the superjumbo's nine first class suites (a handful which also have connecting doors for couples).
Business class travellers will also lose the well-regarded Business Studio seats...
... and The Lobby lounge area.
Travellers who had booked Etihad's Airbus A380 specifically for the quality of its first class or business class experience may now need to reroute their journey through Sydney, which will be the airline's only remaining Aussie superjumbo port.
The second of Etihad's daily Melbourne services, EY462/EY463, will switch from a Boeing 777-300ER to a Boeing 787-9 from October 29 – but this will be the same two-class Boeing 787-9 as currently serves Brisbane, so it has the same business class seats as the A380 but no first class at all.