Uh Oh: Etihad Removes All Mention Of The A380 & The Residence

Uh Oh: Etihad Removes All Mention Of The A380 & The Residence

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Things are looking even worse for the future of the Etihad Airways A380…

Etihad was already “very likely” to retire A380

We’re seeing some airlines retire the Airbus A380 early due to the pandemic. Both Air France and Lufthansa have announced plans to retire their A380 fleets, and Etihad’s CEO has been on record as saying that it’s “very likely” that we won’t ever see the A380 operate for Etihad again.

Air France became the first airline to retire its entire A380 fleet

Etihad’s fleet of 10 A380s is young — the planes an average of around five years old, as Etihad took delivery of its first A380 in late 2014, and its last A380 in mid 2017. The reality, though, is that Etihad potentially getting rid of A380s probably can’t be blamed exclusively on the pandemic.

Etihad has had a major strategy shift in recent years, after racking up billions of dollars in losses, largely thanks to a failed “partner” investment strategy. Now we’ve seen the airlines cancel dozens of aircraft orders, and essentially become a shell of its former self.

Is the Etihad A380 retirement now official?

While nothing has been publicly announced, it’s looking increasingly likely that Etihad has in fact made the decision to retire its A380s. In recent days:

It appears that Etihad’s A380s are being retired

So while we know the plane is grounded right now, the complete removal of any mention of the plane from etihad.com seem to point at the aircraft being retired.

Also, while I’m not sure how much we should read into this:

  • Planespotters lists Etihad’s entire A380 fleet as being “historic” (in other words, retired); previously the planes were listed as being “parked”
  • Airfleets lists five Etihad A380s as “parked” and five Etihad A380s as “stored/scrapped,” while previously all 10 were listed as “parked”

The Etihad Residence may never exist again

Etihad’s A380 retirement makes me sad

Of course let me acknowledge that there are so many worse things going on in the world, so a big plane with fancy cabins being retired isn’t objectively the worst thing going on. But as an avgeek and product geek, all of this still can’t help but make me sad for a variety of reasons.

The Etihad A380 was such a special plane, with its incredible First Class Apartments, the onboard shower in first class, and of course The Residence, which got Etihad infinite amounts of free publicity.

I have so many fond memories flying this plane, and it’s hard to imagine how it just kind of disappeared overnight. Usually if an airline is going to retire a certain aircraft type you get some advance notice and can take one or two last flights on the plane if you want to. But it doesn’t seem that this is the fate for Etihad’s A380s, unfortunately. I can’t believe I’ll never be able to walk down the snazziest “aisle” in commercial aviation ever again.

Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartments

Perhaps equally sad is that to me this kind of ends any appeal associated with Etihad Airways. For a while Etihad was one of the most intriguing airlines in the world, and was considered to be one of the “big three” Gulf carriers, along with Emirates and Qatar.

With Etihad no longer having A380s, along with all the aircraft orders it has canceled, I can’t help but feel like the airline just doesn’t belong in the same competitor set anymore, as the airline can’t really compete with Emirates or Qatar in terms of fleet, route network, onboard product, etc.

In fairness, this was probably inevitable — Etihad was ultimately a poorly and unrealistically run government vanity project, and the airline in its current form is probably what it should have looked like all along.

Etihad’s A380 First Class Apartments were pretty special

Bottom line

While Etihad’s CEO had already stated that it was “very likely” that the airline would retire the A380, it looks like that’s now one step closer to becoming a reality, as the airline has removed all mentions of the whale jet from its website.

As an avgeek that sure makes me sad… is it just me?

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  1. Serena

    Gutted here. I had to cancel my big trip which included 787 first class ZRH to AUH and then A380 first class AUH to JFK. I was not able to rebook before COVID. Now I have to let go of the notion that I will ever be able to fly on the A380. At least the 787 is still in service. But now it appears Etihad doesn't let you choose your own seats, and I...

    Gutted here. I had to cancel my big trip which included 787 first class ZRH to AUH and then A380 first class AUH to JFK. I was not able to rebook before COVID. Now I have to let go of the notion that I will ever be able to fly on the A380. At least the 787 is still in service. But now it appears Etihad doesn't let you choose your own seats, and I would only want to be in a forward-facing window compartment on the non-sun side of the plan which means there's just one seat for me and there's probably almost zero chance of me getting it. (sigh)

  2. MJS

    It's fun coming here and seeing that I'm not the only member of the Brian Kelly fan club. I think my first foray into points collecting was through TPG, but I always found him to be grossly self-important. Now with Lucky and Gary from VFTW, its becoming so much more enjoyable.

  3. Alex Nunez

    There is a dire need in the airline industry for fuel efficient aircraft given the vicissitudes of the price of crude. The aircraft in demand also need to carry around 225-250 passengers at a time, not three or four hundred. The 787 and the A350 are both very good aircraft for this purpose, and I expect them to maintain their popularity. In essence, Boeing was right when they said that the market for the A380...

    There is a dire need in the airline industry for fuel efficient aircraft given the vicissitudes of the price of crude. The aircraft in demand also need to carry around 225-250 passengers at a time, not three or four hundred. The 787 and the A350 are both very good aircraft for this purpose, and I expect them to maintain their popularity. In essence, Boeing was right when they said that the market for the A380 was very limited and that the future was in aircraft for long, thin routes. It would be nice to see the development of widebody aircraft that carry 150-200 people as opposed to relying on the A321 or the B737. I really hate flying narrowbodies for more than about 4.5 hours, especially in a 3-3 layout in coach. To me, 2-2-2 in economy and 1-1-1 in business would be nice to see, as it would both increase yield for the carriers as well as make things a lot more comfortable for passengers, but I realize it's hard to make a widebody like that efficient.

  4. MOHAMMED HOSSAIN

    This A380 should stay until next 20years.

  5. MOHAMMED HOSSAIN

    Is all Etihad Airways A380 retiring, Why all retiring they should leave some at two. Me myself and other Some people would like to fly with A380. They should hold this aircraft for next generation. Next generation population would like to know about this aircraft and they will fly.

  6. Barry

    Its all cyclical as far as class levels go. Each product improves (except economy) and morphs into what the next better level was 10 years earlier. Today's business looks like first did back in the 00s. And premium eco is beginning to look like old school business.

    Assuming the pandemic is put behind us and some semblance of economic prosperity can be sustained, more airlines will revert to offering a "true" first, if for...

    Its all cyclical as far as class levels go. Each product improves (except economy) and morphs into what the next better level was 10 years earlier. Today's business looks like first did back in the 00s. And premium eco is beginning to look like old school business.

    Assuming the pandemic is put behind us and some semblance of economic prosperity can be sustained, more airlines will revert to offering a "true" first, if for nothing else, the prestige factor. That is the inevitible way of these things.

    As for the 380, a beautiful aircraft. Unfortunately, also inefficient. I hope that Emirates can at least continue with it as a viable product for the next 15 years as promised.

  7. SteveA

    Time for Etihad to be merged into Emirates....
    For too long now a loss making airline, even if their A380 was a classy product.

  8. Billiken

    RIP Apt. Class At we were fortunate enough to enjoy 7 legs aboard. You'll be greatly missed. Goodbye EY, hello QR!

  9. Aaron

    @Joey

    Even that, not so much.

    If anything, the real game changer so far seems to be Qatar's Qsuites, which has at least led to some other airlines offering suites in their own business classes as well.

  10. Weetanuki

    I wonder if all of this is a prelude to the long-discussed Etihad-Emirates merger?

  11. Emma

    Just wanted to say thanks for inspiring me and my husband to book The Apartment back in 2016. It was my best flight ever and I’m so sad I won’t be able to do it again. Also, thank you for keeping on blogging in this difficult time - visiting your website is a daily highlight.

  12. Stefan

    Sad to hear. One of my bucket list goals is to fly on the A380. As of now it looks like I have until the mid 2030's and should count on Emirates for good measure.

  13. cs22

    Grateful I was able to experience it (Apartments, not Residence), unlike Concorde, which shut down before I had a chance to try it. Am sure I learned about how to book it here, so thank you!

  14. Joey

    I thought the game changer suite is the 777 Emirates new F.

  15. S

    What, you guys don't like how humble Nicky at TPG is? ;)

  16. Kevin Taylor

    Makes me sad too. I flew Eiihad extensively from 2007 - 2011 between the U.S. and Abu Dhabi. Many JFK flights in A340 business class and then Chicago in business and first on the A340 and 777.
    Life as a frequent Gold Elite flyer was special during that time.
    But living and working there always had that ‘life in a bubble’ feeling to it.
    Things change relative to the price of a barrel of crude oil.

  17. Steve_CC

    @Cedric
    "the soft product is the most important aspect of First class"

    i agree for people who actually pay for First, service matters the most. For flashy bloggers, which Lucky is not, thankfully : ), the hard product and "flex" appeal is most important. They need the likes and the clicks and service does not delivery that as well as the hard products which is why you see all the self-indulgent look at me pics that Brian Kelly posts on his site.

  18. S

    Clicking on your old Etihad reviews I've forgotten how great your old trip reports are. It's fun to go down the rabbit hole of those.

    When are these coming back? :D

  19. Cedric

    Obviously very few people paid for seat time. No offence to Lucky, I love your reviews and you are clearly a classy guy, but most bloggers come off as d bags and people paying mucho $$ are put off by the publicity they generate. An F product has to be exclusive and be backed by a really good soft product. I don't care about the door, the massaging seat, the gold handle...the soft product is the most important aspect of First class.

  20. Aaron

    Remember when Lucky and others claimed how this was a game changer? It didn’t change much, if anything, in the long run, did it?

  21. Joey

    You're not alone, Lucky. I, too, am sad to hear this. Etihad A380 F was amazing. True, they did run out of food choices in F but overall hard product was still topnotch.

  22. tjp74

    I had an incredible memory of flying the apartment back in 2016 or when it was first introduced. I had to split my family of 4 and fly in two separate days just so that all of us can experience it (they never release more than 2 seats per flight) and this was back then when they also offered complementary ride from and to the airport. It's forever etched in my brain and I always...

    I had an incredible memory of flying the apartment back in 2016 or when it was first introduced. I had to split my family of 4 and fly in two separate days just so that all of us can experience it (they never release more than 2 seats per flight) and this was back then when they also offered complementary ride from and to the airport. It's forever etched in my brain and I always wanted to try it again but never had the opportunity again. Needless to say I am really sad to see it go. But I heard that their soft product has gone down the drain over the years so I guess being able to easily book 4 Qsuites on QR is better for our family. QR lounge at Doha was impressive last time I was there back in 2019.

  23. eponymous coward

    I. for one, am shocked that a product couldn't make it when it was seemingly all travel bloggers and FlyerTalkers flying it.

    What, you mean you can't pay for jet fuel using AA miles?

  24. _ar

    This was an overrated product focused on showcasing Nicole Kidman and faux marketing than substance.

    The hard product was amazing, but the soft product - even in the 777 FC that I flew - was very disappointing. Food choices on a 15 hour flight would run out in an hour, or the food itself was substandard. Could in no way compare to F soft product on CX, JL, SQ, LH, etc.

    I stopped wasting my...

    This was an overrated product focused on showcasing Nicole Kidman and faux marketing than substance.

    The hard product was amazing, but the soft product - even in the 777 FC that I flew - was very disappointing. Food choices on a 15 hour flight would run out in an hour, or the food itself was substandard. Could in no way compare to F soft product on CX, JL, SQ, LH, etc.

    I stopped wasting my hard earned AA miles on Etihad F when you have QR J, CX F, JL F, etc.

    Etihad was always an also ran among the Gulf carriers.

  25. Roman

    Sam Chui had an interview with Qatar Airways Group CEO, H.E. Akbar Al Baker. Part of the interview explains how the A380 aircraft, although loved by passengers, is just way to expensive and costly too keep flying. Sad for those of us who have yet to experience Etihad first class on that aircraft but a fond memory for those who have.

  26. Andrew

    Never flew it. Cash and points redemptions were always offensively high, and they never offered an LAX route.

    My only impression of the product was endless photos of Brian Kelly looking ridiculously self-indulgent in the suite, so... I guess I won't miss that much.

  27. Jason

    Etihad's First Class product on its 787s and 777s is still excellent, and the 787 business class product is still very good. Yeah, no A380, but still Etihad is worthwhile to check out if it's an option on your routing. You can still redeem AA miles on them, and they still do have a good network to India and Southeast Asia from the US. While they arent what they once were, and never will be what they dreamed to be, they're still a solid option.

  28. John Doe

    Over the next couple of years we’ll see a massive decline in luxury. Less business class seats, almost no first class & a different looking economy cabin as people are weary of sitting right next to so many people with little social distancing. Once we begin to really reopen will we see how much has actually closed down

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Serena

Gutted here. I had to cancel my big trip which included 787 first class ZRH to AUH and then A380 first class AUH to JFK. I was not able to rebook before COVID. Now I have to let go of the notion that I will ever be able to fly on the A380. At least the 787 is still in service. But now it appears Etihad doesn't let you choose your own seats, and I would only want to be in a forward-facing window compartment on the non-sun side of the plan which means there's just one seat for me and there's probably almost zero chance of me getting it. (sigh)

MJS

It's fun coming here and seeing that I'm not the only member of the Brian Kelly fan club. I think my first foray into points collecting was through TPG, but I always found him to be grossly self-important. Now with Lucky and Gary from VFTW, its becoming so much more enjoyable.

Alex Nunez

There is a dire need in the airline industry for fuel efficient aircraft given the vicissitudes of the price of crude. The aircraft in demand also need to carry around 225-250 passengers at a time, not three or four hundred. The 787 and the A350 are both very good aircraft for this purpose, and I expect them to maintain their popularity. In essence, Boeing was right when they said that the market for the A380 was very limited and that the future was in aircraft for long, thin routes. It would be nice to see the development of widebody aircraft that carry 150-200 people as opposed to relying on the A321 or the B737. I really hate flying narrowbodies for more than about 4.5 hours, especially in a 3-3 layout in coach. To me, 2-2-2 in economy and 1-1-1 in business would be nice to see, as it would both increase yield for the carriers as well as make things a lot more comfortable for passengers, but I realize it's hard to make a widebody like that efficient.

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