Ouch: Etihad Cancels Most Of Their Widebody Plane Orders

Filed Under: Etihad

Etihad has been struggling financially for quite a while, and is undergoing a restructuring, as we see them try to increase revenue and cut costs.

In addition to cutting off or reducing support for many of their unprofitable airline investments (airberlin, Alitalia, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, etc.), the airline has been trying to cut costs for their own operations as well.

While some cost cutting directly impacts the passenger experience, perhaps Etihad’s biggest issue is just how many planes they have on order. At some point Etihad wanted to be huge, while now they’ve decided they want to take more of a boutique approach, and transport people primarily to & from Abu Dhabi, rather than connecting people globally.

Etihad’s current plane orders

As of now Etihad has 112 planes in their fleet, and they’ve had a staggering 156 planes on order. These orders include:

  • 26 Airbus A321neos
  • 40 Airbus A350-900s
  • 22 Airbus A350-1000s
  • 8 Boeing 777-8s
  • 17 Boeing 777-9s
  • 18 Boeing 787-9s
  • 25 Boeing 787-10s

For nearly a year now there have been rumors that Etihad would be canceling many of these plane orders, given that there’s no way they have a need for all of these planes with their new plans.

It looks like we now know what their plans are.

Etihad canceling over 75 widebody orders

Reuters is reporting that Etihad has hugely slashed their widebody plane orders. It looks like over the coming years:

  • Etihad will take delivery of 26 A321neos
  • Etihad will take delivery of 5 A350-1000s
  • Etihad will take delivery of 6 777-9s
  • Etihad will continue to take delivery of 787s, though they’re not disclosing how many

Interestingly Etihad isn’t flat out publicly canceling plane orders here. Instead they’ve reached agreements with Airbus and Boeing where they don’t have to make the cancelation numbers public for now.

Etihad has said in a statement that the “balance of the remaining orders will be defined at a later time through rescheduling, restructuring or reduction.”

So, what potential cancelations are we looking at here (which represents their initial order minus the number of planes they’ve committed to taking delivery of)?

  • Etihad may not take delivery of 40 A350-900s
  • Etihad may not take delivery of 17 A350-1000s
  • Etihad may not take delivery of 8 777-8s
  • Etihad may not take delivery of 11 777-9s
  • Etihad has 43 787s on order, so we’re not sure how many of those they’ll still take delivery of

At the moment we’re looking at Etihad potentially canceling 76 widebody plane orders, and that doesn’t even include a reduction in their 787 orders.

The only thing that has officially been confirmed by Airbus is that the 42 A350-900 orders have been canceled, and the number of A350-1000 orders has been reduced from 22 to 20. Of course I think it’s safe to assume that most of those A350-1000 orders will still be canceled, given that they’ve only committed to taking five of them.

Bottom line

This update doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Up until now Etihad’s order for 150+ additional aircraft simply didn’t match their updated business model, so we’ve been waiting for this reduction.

It sounds like at a minimum Etihad is canceling 76 widebody aircraft order, with the potential for even more orders to be canceled.

It is interesting how they’re being private about these cancelations.

Are you surprised to see Etihad cancel this many plane orders?

  1. Half of this is just speculation, yet the one order that they have formally mentioned is not included???

    Airbus has confirmed today Erihad has cancelled 42 x A350-900 and just has 20 x A350-1000 on the order books. Whether they take those is another question but all the A350-900s are formally cancelled between Etihad and Airbus.

  2. Maube time to update your post on ‘Ben’.

    ‘Ben’ has been in Amsterdam and tried a quickie. The result is now that the KLM employee council is very possibly taking him to court in order to prevent him from dipping his fingers into the KLM cash balance to fund the sweeteners he gave away to AF employees.
    As employees are supported by the government, ‘Ben’ or maybe even AF is unlikely to come clean out of this.

  3. @ron
    I have a pro Dutch bias but KLMs complaints are off line. They don’t want the companies to merge…well then they shouldn’t have previously agreed to a merger. It’s insane to have an airline operating under one group without economics of scale benefits.

    Either KLM needs to be spun off into an independent company or properly merged with AF.

  4. I keep hearing October but I do not see the opening before the end of 2019..
    The October word comes from floor workers..adding that many bus drivers have had their coming end of contract already..
    Whatever..it is not going to be an easy birth nor an easy childhood when considering constant logistical glitches

  5. Etihad is great – but the strategy reminds me to the Qualiflyer Group about 20 years ago. Buying stakes of struggling airlines to feed the own planes was already being proofed by Swissair to be the wrong way… Hope they will be successful again and keep up their premium product.

  6. They are cutting down on their Widebody orders and yet they are providing millions of dollars to Jet Airways every single month. In Jan 2019, they gave away $35 million to Jet and according to a SEBI filing(Securities and Exchange Board of India) in January 2019, Etihad is going to give a Bank Guarantee to Jet Airways’ lenders for a $150 million loan in order to keep Jet afloat. (They have already provided nearly $70 million to Jet since October.)

    I guess Etihad is in for a long haul as far as their investment in Jet is concerned.

  7. “So, what potential cancelations are we looking at here (which represents their initial order minus the number of planes they’ve committed to taking delivery of)?”

    How thick are your readers that you need to explain how you calculated that??

  8. Honestly I don’t think this will be a huge deal for Airbus. I am sure they have plenty of customers for these aircraft and it allows them to move some carriers to a quicker schedule for delivery. As well, they can now use this to perhaps push a few more airlines for a new order with the idea of faster delivery than Boeing might be able to provide. I anticipate this will even out quickly.

  9. “It is interesting how they’re being private about these cancelations.”
    It’s not interesting, it is business as usual for the Khaliji region. The businesses are about the splashy news headlines and the bling. While failure is a normal part of business, you will seldom hear about it in the Gulf newspapers since they are controlled by their respective governments.

  10. it’s just painful to see them deteriorate like this. etihad had a nice run but they are just too redundant and the UAE needs to merge them to Emirates and use the money on a high-speed rail network connecting dubai and abu dhabi. it’s already just a two hour drive between the two cities

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