Etihad Airways has confirmed it intends to return its grounded Airbus A380 aircraft to service after their future was previously uncertain.
Like German carrier Lufthansa, who had also grounded its entire A380 fleet but recently confirmed some would be reactivated, Etihad had always refused to be drawn on a definitive answer on whether their superjumbos would return. But now it seems they will see service once again on the airline’s key route.
Four of the airline’s ten-strong fleet of A380s are to be brought back into service from March 2023, to serve the Abu Dhabi – London Heathrow route, which is performing strongly and, according to the airline, “makes [the A380] financially viable”.
Previous destinations served by Etihad’s A380s include Paris CDG, London Heathrow, New York JFK, Sydney, Melbourne and Mumbai.
Reactivating four examples seems a lot for just one route, so it may be likely additional destinations are added for the Summer 2023 season.
At present four of Etihad’s A380s are stored at Tarbes-Lourdes in France, with the remaining six at Teruel in Spain. The airline is currently preparing the aircraft to fly again, and part of this preparation includes the recruitment and training of A380 teams, including pilots, cabin crew and technical ground staff.
His Excellency Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “It is wonderful to announce the return of this splendid aircraft. The A380’s reintroduction provides a further boost to Etihad’s capacity into the key UK market, with a knock-on effect for the wider GCC and Indian subcontinent that will bring more visitors to the city of Abu Dhabi.”
Etihad’s A380s feature The Residence as well as three cabin classes on the double-decker aircraft, including 9 First Apartments, 70 Business Studios and 405 Economy Smart Seats. This includes 80 Economy Space seats with a seat pitch of up to 36 inches.
The A380s’ return will be supported by the addition of five of their smaller A320 siblings.