First Etihad Airways grounded its entire A380 fleet, and now the airline won’t even offer first class to New York.
Etihad removes first class on JFK flights
Between March 27 and July 1, 2021, Etihad Airways has scheduled a two-cabin Boeing 787-9 between Abu Dhabi and New York, featuring just business class and economy. That’s fascinating to me, because up until March 27 and after July 1 the airline shows a three-cabin Boeing 787-9 scheduled, which does feature first class.
Etihad’s 787 first class
Just to compare capacity of the two configurations:
- The three-cabin plane has eight first class seats, the two-cabin plane has no first class seats
- The three-cabin and two-cabin planes both have 28 business class seats
- The three-cabin plane has 195 economy seats, the two-cabin plane has 271 economy seats
Etihad’s Boeing 787-9
As you can see, the two-cabin plane has a net 68 additional seats — it has 76 extra economy seats, at the expense of eight first class seats.
What’s perhaps most interesting here is that during the same period Etihad plans to continue to fly a three-cabin 787-9 to Washington Dulles. It makes you wonder whether there’s more first class demand to Washington, or more economy demand to New York.
Etihad’s 787 business class
Etihad’s JFK route sure has fallen…
Obviously the pandemic has had a terrible impact on the airline industry, but it’s still pretty incredible to reflect on just how capacity has decreased between Abu Dhabi and New York, even pre-coronavirus:
- Etihad used to fly two daily A380s between Abu Dhabi and New York
- As of October 2018, Etihad reduced the New York route from two daily A380s to one daily A380
- Shortly after the pandemic started, Etihad grounded its entire A380 fleet, so the airline started flying a three cabin 787-9 to New York
- Now the airline is increasing capacity by flying a two cabin 787-9, but is also eliminating first class in the process
It’s anyone’s guess if/when Etihad will fly A380s again. It’s possible the airline may end up retiring these planes, as no firm decision has been made one way or another. Etihad’s CEO is on record as saying that the “jury is still out” on the future of the A380.
I sure do miss the Etihad A380!
For a period of over three months this coming spring, Etihad plans to fly a two-cabin 787 to New York, meaning the airline won’t offer first class. It’s anyone’s guess if that plane swap is extended, or if this is truly just for a period of a few months.
Are you surprised to see Etihad remove first class on the New York route?