Gulf carrier Etihad Airways will bring back the Airbus A380 superjumbo, joining a small group of airlines choosing to revive the mammoth jet after it had appeared doomed at the height of the Covid crisis.
Etihad plans to return four the double-deckers from mid-2023 on flights to London Heathrow, in turn freeing up capacity to bring back more destinations and add frequencies elsewhere, it said Friday.
“The move follows a surge in demand for air travel across the airline’s network and customer feedback for the return of one of the most remarkable commercial flying experiences in the sky,” the carrier said.
The Etihad A380s are particularly luxurious, fitted with nine first class Apartment suites featuring a wide leather lounge chair and an ottoman which converts into a long lie-flat bed, and set the standard for competitors such as Singapore Airlines and Qantas to follow.
Premium passengers will be able to upgrade to the even more luxurious three-compartment Residence.
It’s long been rumoured Etihad would reactivate at least some of its superlative A380 superjumbos, although Paris and Sydney were often cited as joining London as rebooted A380 destinations.
While the Gulf carrier has never ruled out the A380’s return, it remained guarded with its words, preferring ‘market condition’ caveats over an outright denial.
“We would only re-enter our A380s into the fleet if the yield on ticket prices and demand would make them financially viable,” a spokesman for the airline told Executive Traveller earlier this year
“With the currently soaring oil prices that is unlikely to occur any time soon.”
“The A380 is an incredible product and something that all of us would love to return from a travelling perspective, but the economics need to make sense.”
Etihad is reactivating the A380 under newly-minted CEO Antonoaldo Neves, the former head of Portuguese flag carrier TAP, who joined a few weeks ago to replace outgoing chief Tony Douglas.
Additional reporting by David Flynn
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