Etihad Airways Entirely Removes A380 From Schedule

Filed Under: Etihad

It sure is looking increasingly unlikely that Etihad Airways’ A380s will be making a return to the skies anytime soon.

Etihad removes A380 from schedule for all routes

As noted by @xJonNYC, Etihad has just removed the A380 from its schedule indefinitely. Etihad’s A380 fleet has been grounded since March, though up until now the airline has largely just been removing the A380 from the schedule a month of two in advance.

Now no flights, even 11 months in the future, show A380s anymore. Before the pandemic, Etihad operated a fleet of 10 A380s from its Abu Dhabi hub to London, New York, Paris, Seoul, and Sydney.

Looking at the schedule as far out as it goes (September 2021), Etihad now shows the following planes operating these routes:

  • Abu Dhabi to London will be operated 4x daily, with 3x daily flights being operated by three class 787-9s, and 1x daily flight being operated by two class 787-9s
  • Abu Dhabi to New York will be operated 1x daily by a three class 787-9
  • Abu Dhabi to Paris will be operated 2x daily by two class 787-9s
  • Abu Dhabi to Seoul will be operated 1x daily by a two class 787-9
  • Abu Dhabi to Sydney will be operated 2x daily, with 1x daily flight being operated by a three class 777-300ER, and 1x daily flight being operated by a two class 787-9

Of course I’d note that this remains highly subject to change, though it is still significant to see Etihad remove the A380 this far out.

Etihad’s 787-9 first class

Will Etihad ever fly the A380 again?

This inventory change from Etihad follows some comments from Etihad’s CEO about the future of the airplane a bit over a week ago.

He stated that “the jury’s still out” as to whether or not the A380 will ever fly again for Etihad, noting that he thinks that A380s will be retired globally in the same way that we’ve seen with 747s. It doesn’t sound to me like he has much confidence in the future of the plane…

Does the A380 have a future at Etihad?

Etihad making the decision to remove the A380 from inventory does increasingly point to these planes being put into long term storage at a minimum, and that’s probably the best case scenario.

We’ve already seen Air France retire its entire A380 fleet, with Lufthansa intending to retire its A380 fleet. Lufthansa A380s will only be reactivated “in the event of an unexpectedly rapid market recovery.”

Speaking of removing A380s from schedules, ironically Air France still shows A380s scheduled for certain routes next summer, even though the airline has retired all of these planes.

This would be the end of The Residence & First Class Apartments

While it wouldn’t be surprising, it sure would be sad to see Etihad retire its A380s, as these are the planes that really put the airline on the map in terms of widespread appeal.

Etihad is well known for its A380 First Class Apartments, and particularly for The Residence, which is a private three room suite with butler service.

Obviously I understand the economics just might not work anymore, though it makes me kind of sentimental to think I may never be on an Etihad A380 again. I know, first world problems for sure…

The Residence on the Etihad A380

What should you do if you have an Etihad A380 reservation?

I know a lot of people have redeemed miles for travel on the Etihad A380, whether that was done with American AAdvantage miles, or with Air Canada Aeroplan miles, thanks to the amazing value of this new partnership.

What should you do if you’re now showing your flight operated by a different plane, or you’re finding yourself downgraded from first class to business class due to the plane change? Here’s my take:

  • Many people were probably being optimistic in terms of borders being open when they booked their travel (like Americans thinking they’ll be able to go to Australia this year)
  • You can get a refund for sure if you’re downgraded, but typically can’t if you just had an aircraft swap
  • If you were still planning on taking the trip then I might just hold onto the current itinerary; you never know, we could see Etihad bring back the A380 once again, though it does seem unlikely

First Class Apartments on the Etihad A380

Bottom line

Etihad Airways has now removed the A380 from its schedule all the way through next September. We’ve largely seen airlines update schedules pretty last minute (that was the case at Etihad up until now), so I do think this is pretty noteworthy.

We don’t definitively know what will happen to these planes, though it does increasingly seem like Etihad’s A380s may not be returning at all, or if they do, that it would happen way in the future.

When you also consider the recent comments from Etihad’s CEO, things aren’t looking good for the whale jets.

What do you make of this — do you think Etihad will bring back its A380s eventually, or is this the end?

Comments
  1. Yikes, the capacity jump from the A380 to the 787-9 is pretty big. That’ll give them the chance to maximise the 789 utilisation, though, and they’ve been planning to downsize for a while.

    I don’t like the A380 but I had been saving up to sample The Residence. Oh well

  2. Etihad loses its only premium cabin advantage if it removes the A380s. Very shortsighted strategy but, then again, most everything Etihad has been doing the past few years has also contributed to the end of it as an aspirational carrier,

  3. Oh, and they’re axing Brisbane flights. Here’s to hoping Qatar will be allowed to add flights for the sake of competition. I hope Al-Baker pulls no stops to push for Doha-Brisbane flights in the future.

  4. Hmm… I wouldn’t really say the 747 has been “retired globally.” The 747-400, sure, but those were mostly retired at normal retirement ages. Those started production in the 1980s and it’s been quite a long time since a new one was built. I’m not aware of any carrier that has retired a 747-8 in the way that’s happening with the A380. Granted, there aren’t as many 747-8s out there as A380s, but I’m not aware of any airline that has retired a 747-8, whereas multiple airlines have retired A380s and some have even been scrapped.

  5. “premium cabin advantage”

    LOL yeah, bloggers, Youtubers and their followers who generate miles from credit cards and don’t actually pay cash to sit in the cabin… huge advantage.

    (rolls eyes)

    The people who actually pay the freight for premium travel (business travelers) mostly aren’t flying right now. Right now it’s about not burning a bunch of fuel on flights that are losing money and can’t fill seats. That’s why everyone is benching 747s and A380s and moving towards A350s and 787s.

    There aren’t enough rich people who want to pay cash for premium air travel to sustain an A380 without corporate travel backing it up, and it’s just not happening right now.

    The interesting part of this is going to be how much remote working + videoconferencing is going to suck out business demand. If the bean counters are going to come to the conclusion of “hey, if we can cut travel budgets in half or more and we don’t have much of a problem, that’s money we can pocket in profit”, that means airlines are going to suck a lot of premium seats out of the market, because, sorry, they’re not going to keep them around so you can redeem them with miles at huge discounts to premium prices.

    I’d imagine that you’ll get more Y/Y+ and less J, and possibly a LOT less F, simply because it’s going to be based on what people buy (and Y+ and J are more profitable than F, which is mostly a halo product you give to customers who drop a lot on J).

    So… better hope that corporate travel bounces back soon, or kiss goodbye to “the hobby” as you knew it. A380s with corporate dorms of 60-70 mostly empty J seats don’t work without some people paying actual cash money.

  6. Yeah, got our equipment swap for our delayed bucket-list/honeymoon for April 2021 (was supposed to be April 2020).

    I’m going to keep the reservation but am booking backup QR QSuites and if we don’t swap back to A380 I’ll cancel. The 789 F is not worth the 140k AA miles, IMO vs. 70k miles for QR Qsuites. Both have doors, and I think QR even offers dine on demand currently whilst EY does not. Granted, looks like EY is slightly wider seat, but major downgrade from Apartments/shower. Too bad, it’ll probably never happen. Was really looking forward to first time, but I highly doubt demand will pick up for ANY A380 until 2023. US won’t have general population availability for vaccine until Q1 2022 at the earliest, according to several news reports, so I don’t think travel will resume enough until then.

    Congrats to the rest of you who were able to enjoy such extravagant digs on the A380. Just wish I could’ve experienced it.

  7. It makes sense. There was no advantage to flying the A380 when they just couldn’t make it profitable, especially in such relatively small quantities. Etihad seems to be the perfect carrier for the 787-9 and should really focus on expanding that fleet as it gives them the legs to fly long distances economically but can equally be put on shorter flights.

    The talk of “premium cabin advantage” is just dumb. The Etihad 787 business class is also very nice and is very competitive. Very few people actually fly First, it just doesn’t make much sense economically given the price to performance.

  8. Nooooo! If no apt. class, then I’d rather fly Qsuites on an AA redemption. EY you’re dead to me! 😉

  9. @Chris, what’s dumb is asserting that Etihad’s “very nice and very competitive” 787 business class should somehow be acceptable to the few of us (your words) who fly first class.

    Etihad’s Residence and Apartments are (were) unique and I can tell you that, from my time spent in Abu Dhabi, those products pulled in more than their fair share of customers and revenue pre-Covid and would no doubt do so again post-Covid.

  10. @Biliken:
    Yeah that’s my sentiment at this point. REALLY wanted the apartments, but oh well. Missed out on the timing I guess.

  11. The level of disconnect between points and mile enthusiasts versus corporate paid business travels is extremly high. People who travel on paid J fares would rather be home one hour earlier in an AA or Delta seat than spend an extra 3 hours at the airport to fly a premium business or first seat like Ethiad or Emiretes. People on these blogs think the airlines need to cater to them and it is laughable, readers like us make the airlines no money we pride ourselves in costing them money by getting ridiculous value. Our epic points redemptions are only possible when the vast majority of customers are full fare paying customers or on corporate contracts. Those people would rather get to A to B one minute earlier than get a more premium champagne on board.

  12. I’ve flown Etihad Business Class on one of their A380s and it was wonderful, I could find no fault with it. The A380 is my choice of plane (when available) and I am sad to see this smooth, quiet spacious plane being phased out.

  13. We just flew back from the Maldives last week on the Dreamliner. We were the only ones in first class on the Dreamliner. I flew in the Apartment 3 year ago and it was the best. At least Etihad still has the private chef for first on the Dreamliner. I wouldn’t be surprised if they have to discontinue that service. The first class lounge is currently closed in AUH. It’s sad they have to make these changes but it’s understandable. Very few are flying now. The MLE-AUH fights only has maybe 12 people in coach. Business was full – but that’s only 20 passengers.

  14. The inevitble collapse of a false economy based off the back of outsourcing and exploting a labor force in a territory with little to zero recourse for employer abuse.

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