Etihad Airways Grounds A380 Fleet

Filed Under: Etihad

Etihad Airways has become the latest airline to ground their Airbus A380 fleet (update: at this point Etihad’s entire fleet is grounded, since the UAE has imposed a flight ban for 14 days, starting March 25, 2020).

Etihad Airways grounds A380s

Etihad Airways operates a fleet of 10 Airbus A380s, all of which they took delivery of between late 2014 and late 2017. Etihad’s A380 fleet is only a fraction of rival Emirates’ A380 fleet, but up until recently both airlines have fully been operating their fleets.

Etihad A380

Well, it appears that Etihad is in the process of grounding their A380 fleet. The Abu Dhabi based airline flies the A380 to the following destinations:

  • London
  • New York
  • Paris
  • Seoul Incheon
  • Sydney

However, looking at the schedule over the next several weeks, you’ll notice that the airline hasn’t scheduled the A380 for any of those routes anymore. It would appear that as of now Etihad has taken the A380 out of the schedule all the way through June 30, 2020.

What planes is Etihad operating on A380 routes instead?

  • London is being flown by a combination of 787-9s and 787-10s (select 787-9s have first class)
  • New York is being flown by a 777-300ER (with first class)
  • Paris is being flown by a combination of 787-10s and 777-300ERs (select 777-300ERs have first class)
  • Seoul Incheon is being flown by a 787-10
  • Sydney is being flown by a 777-300ER (select 777-300ERs have first class)

Many former A380 flights are now operated by 787s

That also means “The Residence” is suspended

While a minor point in the grand scheme of things, it’s interesting to note that without the A380, Etihad also isn’t offering “The Residence.”

This is Etihad’s three room suite with butler service at the front of the A380 upper deck. You can read my review of the experience flying this between Abu Dhabi and Sydney here.

Etihad A380 Residence

I’m sure that’s not much of a loss since it wasn’t sold much anyway, but this is one case where an aircraft type being grounded also results in an entire class of service being eliminated.

Etihad also has a special first class on the A380.

Etihad A380 first class

Etihad A380 first class

This is significantly nicer than Etihad’s 787-9 first class.

Etihad 787 first class

Etihad 787 first class

What airlines are still flying the A380?

Etihad is far from the first airline to ground the A380. As of now, the following airlines have grounded (or have announced imminent plans to ground) their A380 fleets:

  • Air France
  • China Southern
  • Etihad Airways
  • Korean Air
  • Lufthansa
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas

Qantas A380

Meanwhile the following airlines continue to operate the A380:

  • All Nippon Airways
  • Asiana
  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Qatar Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways

Singapore Airlines A380

As you can see, now half of the airlines that used to operate the A380 have grounded the plane. However, Emirates continues to fly the A380, and the airline has nearly as many A380s as all other airlines combined. There have been rumors of the airline grounding these, though we’ll see… (update: in the meantime, Emirates has suspended all operations)

I imagine the number of grounded A380s will continue to increase.

Why has the A380 been a victim of this crisis?

While at one point many believed the A380 represented the future of aviation, that unfortunately never materialized. The A380 is the biggest passenger jet, and with the demand for global aviation on the rise (generally… not right now), it makes sense that we’d see bigger planes.

However, instead the trend in terms of aircraft size has largely reversed, with A350s and 787s being much more popular then A380s. A380 production will end in 2021 at the latest, and many airlines have already announced plans to retire the aircraft type in the coming years.

With the current massive drop in global demand these are among the first planes being grounded, and at least for some airlines (like Air France, which planned to retire them all soon), I suspect this will represent the end of the line for the A380.

Air France A380

Bottom line

Etihad Airways is grounding their 10 Airbus A380s through at least the end of June, meaning that half of airlines have grounded the aircraft type.

While at some airlines I think this current situation may spell early retirement for the A380, I doubt that’s quite the case at Etihad. Even prior to this the airline hadn’t announced any specific plans to retire the A380.

From a passenger experience standpoint this is a shame, but then again, hopefully most people aren’t flying right now.

  1. While not an apartment and with no shower, Etihad ‘s B787-9 1st Class is quite nice! 🙂
    I’ve enjoyed it a few times

  2. Its a real pity because the first class apartments of EY were one of the best if not the best one not to forget the shower…787 is no where in comparison…

  3. Ben – would you happen to know if the major credit cards’ travel insurance cover any cancellations as a result of not wanting / able to take a trip in the coming weeks?

  4. Do you think EY can make money if I paid a $1000 to social distance the night in the Residence. No need for butler or fancy meal. Just the room, the shower, and some take out dinner.

  5. @SK
    I take it you haven’t flown etihad a380 in first before. The bed sorry the slab of concrete is extremely uncomfortable to sleep on long distance and the seat well your literally upright the entire flight.
    Food is mediocre and the shower and bar compared to emirates is a joke.
    Anyway I can’t believe all these about points redemption and upcoming flights seriously people get a grip of the bigger problem with China VIRUS!

  6. I had the opportunity to fly on Etihad’s A380s once (Business Studio). Very comfortable, but the service seemed to me forced.

    Hope these airlines can survive the next few months.

  7. I had my flight chnaged from the Airbus 380 to that of the Boeing 777. Do you think Etihad should compensate me for not giving the aircraft they had initially planned on giving? I booked a business class in June and the business class in 777 sucks, it’s just like the economy with premium benefits.

  8. The Residence was the greatest flying experience I ever had (even better than my very first flight). It is sad but understandable. I would not be flying it anytime soon (I was planning on 2022 but now……………) though so can’t complain.

    The A380 remains my fave plane edging our The Queen. I don’t mind some of the others not flying them but hope Etihad and BA keep flying them for years and years. Let’s hope this virus doesn’t change flying forever. 🙁

  9. Etihad First Class is amazing! We flew CDG-AUH, and after a few days AUH-ICN. The privacy of your own apartment, with amazing spaciousness, and only 8 First Class seats with two bathrooms, one with a shower, is the best in the business. Great food, wines, caviar, attention to detail, and wonderful friendly flight attendants made our flights memorable. The pajamas are my wife’s favorites, and she double purposed them by wearing them to the mosque. In Abu Dhabi there is a First Class terminal. You clear immigration and security in minutes. The First Class lounge has a spa for a message, formal dining room, even a gym. We‘ve flown LH, KE, TG, BA, OZ, AA First Class, and Etihad is by FAR the best of all. Hope they get the A380 back in air once the craziness of the Corona virus is over.

  10. You can only throw good money after bad when times are good. Why would you operate that whale when the 787 or 350 cam match its seat mile costs at half the trip costs, especially when you have less than 100 people on it?

  11. @Lucky

    It’s all about the cargo volume, and this where the A380 sucks.

    Great for passengers, not so much for cargo.

  12. In the grander scheme of things, I know I hardly am in a position to complain, but this affected me directly unfortunately. I was in the middle of a 5 week vacation in India, Nepal and the rest of that region when things got really bad and had to make the decision to come home ASAP. I was originally scheduled to take Etihad’s Apartment back to NY in April – an award flight that I had been working towards and looking forward to for a long long time. I hope i have not lost out on my opportunity to finally fly that product and that it returns to the sky again after the virus settles down. As disappointing as giving up this award was, fortunately Qatar opened up plenty of award space from KTH to BOS via DOH (in addition to only $1600 flights) for their Qsuites for last minute flights home (got out just in time before almost everything shut down) so I am thankful I still got to experience that incredible product. But like I said, in the grander scheme of things, I am most fortunate to just have gotten home safely and know i have no room to complain given what so many others in this world are dealing with now. For anyone else still trying to travel home, I wish you all the best!

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