Etihad Is Making Their Biggest US Route Cut Yet

Filed Under: Etihad

Etihad has been cutting costs significantly the past few years, and that has also included many route cuts. Looking at their US route network alone, Etihad has cut flights to Dallas and San Francisco within the past year. That means their remaining US destinations are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York JFK, and Washington Dulles.

Etihad has just revealed their latest US flight to get cut, and it represents their biggest capacity cut on a US route yet. Etihad will be canceling one of their two daily Airbus A380 flights between Abu Dhabi and New York as of October 1, 2018.

The airline has operated 2x daily flights to New York for several years. They used to operate one daily A380 and one daily 777, but as of last October they’ve offered twice daily A380 flights. Just a year after that capacity increase, they’re cutting the second frequency altogether (which shows just how much they’re lacking strategy, given that it’s not like demand changed overnight).

Etihad’s A380 first class cabin

As of October, Etihad will offer a single daily flight between Abu Dhabi and New York, which will be operated by an A380 6x weekly, and by a 777 1x weekly (on Tuesdays). The flight will operate with the following schedule:

EY101 Abu Dhabi to New York departing 9:55AM arriving 4:10PM
EY100 New York to Abu Dhabi departing 10:55PM arriving 8:05PM (+1 day)

As of October 1, Etihad will be introducing a second daily A380 flight to Paris. I’m not sure if they have another route on which they plan on adding the A380, because presumably they have some extra wiggle room in the schedule given how much shorter the flight is. However, as of now I don’t see any other increases loaded into the schedule.

The decision to cancel one of the daily A380 flights was clearly strictly a business decision, and has nothing to do with the recent settlement between the US and UAE regarding the Open Skies agreement, which essentially means “business as usual” for the Gulf carriers. However, I’d bet good money that the US airline lobbying groups will be along shortly to take credit for this route cut from Etihad. “See how effective our campaign was? We’ve convinced the Gulf carriers to pull out of the US, thereby protecting American jobs!”

  1. And the downwards spiral continues. Goodbye etihad. @lucky, any idea how long they can continue like this for? Soon they won’t have anymore routes, product aspects etc. to cut

  2. Do you think there’s enough demand to also move this a380 to Delhi or anywhere else in the Indian subcontinent?

  3. I’d be interested to know what the final destination is for most ex-US passengers?


    I can’t imagine it’s Europe given how far out of the way Abu Dhabi is

    And that, in a nutshell, is the ME3’s largest challenge

    Most people don’t want to go to the ME3 hubs. They simply want to transit through

  4. Lucky,
    I’m one of the unlucky ones. I have a flight booked for Tuesday, 27 Nov. from AUH to JFK. Booked this as part of an epic honeymoon. We wanted to flying the 1st class apartment. What kind of recourse to you think we have?

  5. Hey Lucky, thanks for the heads up! My wife and I were booked on EY 103 F in December (AA award). Just got an email from Etihad about this change, saying I’ve been rebooked onto EY101. Booking reference on Etihad’s site reflects the change as well. Think all is well and I’m still ticketed or is a call to AA prudent?

  6. “The decision to cancel one of the daily A380 flights was clearly strictly a business decision, and has nothing to do with the recent settlement between the US and UAE regarding the Open Skies agreement”

    I would just point out that when the US carriers complained the ME3 were doing uneconomical things due to subsidies and the lack of transparency in having to disclose them, you called them whiners and their complaints had no merit.

    Then when the US government reached the settlement with them last month to enforce “transparency, full accounting, stopping of subsidies and route freezes” (Peter Navarro), you said it was an empty victory, designed to save face, and that nothing would change as it would be business as usual.

    And now, as things are changing and uneconomical shenanigans are being reduced or eliminated, you say this has nothing to do with the open skies agreement.

    I think the lens through which you view this issue is seriously off.

  7. Etihad days are numbered…
    Many peeps I know who fly J/F often have been ‘booking away’ for over a year now….worried they could fold anytime. Also bad rep on their operational problems, delays etc…
    Best course of action, maybe let Emirates absorb them, their routes?
    Thoughts anyone?

  8. now if only Emirates would join 1W so that I could fly them with my AA miles instead of on EY…

  9. I’ve only flown EY JFK-AUH route a few times in all three cabins and one of the best deals as of late is getting your own row in economy class in the EY A380 as it makes the trip more pleasant. With this recent cut, I bet that daily A380 flight will be packed crazy in all 3 cabins especially during peak season. Not a great passenger experience at all.
    From the few flights I have flown with EY, most pax ex-US tend to only connect in AUH and then go on to India.

  10. @Rob, correct me if I’m wrong but I believe Etihad started cutting routes before the agreement was reached right? So…..

  11. @ Rob

    “the US government reached the settlement with them last month to enforce “… stopping of subsidies”

    Wait – the US government is going to stop all subsidies to the US3?

    About time!

    It’s simply *outrageous* that those private US3 companies have been sucking at the public teat, bloating themselves at tax-payer’s expense, their subsidised asses stifling manly competition from entrepreneurial, free-spirited start-up Capitalist heroes,
    [cont on p.94…]

    Wait. You mean it’s only ME subsidies that are evil, while US subsidies are necessary to serve the community…?

  12. You make a good point about their strategy being a bit all over the place. They built a brand new huge lounge a with Residence room in Melbourne for the A380… now only a couple years on they’re down to only 787s on the route.

  13. @Matty, I have a flight booked from AUH to JFK in Apartments for me and my wife early December and I received an email from Etihad this morning saying they cancelled my flight and rebooked me in Apartments on the other flight. Unfortunately, I had to cancel this flight anyway and I’ve been putting off. So i’m kind of thankful this happened because now I don’t have to pay to $200 to reinstate my miles 🙂

  14. @William
    So…if they were brain dead before the agreement last month, than ya, you got a point. But I kinda suspect they had a feeling their questionable practices were in jeopardy when we elected a trade hawk that campaigned on building a wall on the mexican border and kicking China’s teeth in for taking advantage of us in trade. So…

  15. I would not be surprised if ORD was cut I. The next several months for more flight to other destinations in Europe

  16. @ the Nice Paul
    I generally do enjoy your comments, but it is simply not true that the U.S. carriers are subsidized. Every example Lucky or Gary have ever produced to support that assertion conveniently ignores that the entities they claimed were subsidized, have since gone bankrupt and sold at fair market value to new owners. I have generally come to understand that bloggers don’t grasp the concept of bankruptcy and how a trade name can continue to be the same but under new ownership.

    Saying the US carriers are subsidized today is like saying you were subsidized when you bought your house because the previous owner borrowed the money from his parents when he originally bought the house.

  17. @ Roberto – don’t say that!!! I’m flying EY from ORD-AUH in late Sept I don’t want to get cycled to IAD or JFK lol.

  18. @Nick in Chicago – Do they fly a 77W to ORD? But enjoy the flight anyways, I loved the experienced when I flew J, IAD-AUH

  19. “…be operated by an A380 6x weekly, and by a 777 1x weekly (on Tuesdays).” — Conflicting DP: My EY103 flight on Tuesday Jan 1st was rebooked to Tuesday’s EY 101. According to my issued ticket and the seating arrangement confirmed by EY agent, the EY 101 flight is an A380, despite being on a Tuesday.

  20. If a Middle Eastern airline whose target market for many of their flights is shuffling people from India to Europe and America can’t make SAN FRANCISCO work, then that airline shouldn’t have a reason for existing.

  21. “…a trade hawk…”

    THAT ‘TRADE HAWWK” IS GOING TO PRISON!!!!!!1!!!!!1!!!. LOCK HIM UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    HE WIL LOOOK EVEN BETTER BEHIND BARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!1!!!!!!!!

  22. so there will be only one A380 flight from Abu Dhabi to the US, right? Except JFK all the other US based airports that Etihad is flying to are served by 777?

  23. So, I now have a 12 hour overnight layover, as opposed to my previous 3 hour layover due to this. We used transferred 300,000 American Express points and Etihad is only offering a refund. The points will be stuck with Etihad and the connection can never be decreased due to the once daily flight. We asked for a hotel but they are being very cryptic and we will also now need a transit visa due to the increase in length of layout. Thoughts on what we should do?

  24. What route what the spare A380 operate? Americas and Australia are too far, Asia and Africa are low yielding.

    I would bet they will upgrade HKG to an A380 as that is the most premium destination which is closest in length to AUH-CDG, and thus would fit in to the extra route a spare A380 could operate. You heard it here first.

  25. Lucky, how much longer do you give Etihad before they get extinct and/or absorbed by Emirates?

  26. The MEAs have been great for consumers: both in fares and service standards ( for forced the perennial whiners to lift their own games and/or join them through partnerships). And in spite of the unrelenting hand-wringing, posturing and bitching from the US carriers, it hasn’t been all bad, eg, record profit levels for many carriers, even though the international herd might have been thinned a bit.
    But the MEAs haven’t been required to demonstrate the same discipline/rigour as others; up until now an endless flow of money and a ‘build it and they will come’ attitude. Times are changing for all of them.
    It would be a pity to see any of them fail; it would be a bad day for the traveling public ( but one only has to look at what BA , in cahoots with US allies, did to Freddie Laker to know that the piranhas are still in the water).

  27. Agree Joeboo- Ethihad days are numbered . Merger with Emirates unlikely in my view, What has Ethihad got to offer Emirates . I think they will just downsize and become small. Lots of pilots leaving I heard

  28. @JRMW

    Their largest markets are Indian subcontinent, Africa, Middle East itself, and part of Southeast Asia.

  29. I’ve been caught up in this too on a paid J return flight from JFK-SIN via AUH in late November. The outbound flight is unchanged, but on the return our 3h50min layover in AUH is now 11-hours and overnight. I’m going to call and ask if they provide hotel, meals and airport transfer as a result of the new extended layover as Emirates does. I see that Etihad does have a free stopover program for J and F, but I don’t think that includes meals and ground transfer to/from hotel. I’m seriously debating just cancelling it and re-booking on another carrier. It would be worse service but I could fly on a Chinese carrier for about 30% less, which translates into $2,500 savings for two passengers.

  30. I went ahead and cancelled my J-class JFK-AUH-SIN return flight as a result of this change. Re-booking on a cheaper carrier.

  31. @Jeff – if you’re on a US passport, no expense for a transit visa. They just stamp your passport. You can get excellent hotels in Abu Dhabi. It’s a worthwhile stopover.

    @Sam – A380 to JFK, 777-300 to LAX and ORD, 787-9 to Dulles

  32. I am looking at flying the ORD to AUH route sometime near the end of this year on award tickets (for four passengers). If they were to cancel ORD to AUH service before our flight, would they help us re-route via IAD or JFK? Or would AA just cancel the ticket and refund the miles? Thanks!

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