Etihad Acquiring Airbus A321neos (Former Bamboo Airways)

Etihad Acquiring Airbus A321neos (Former Bamboo Airways)


Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways will soon begin flying Airbus A321neos, as part of its goal of expanding short haul capacity. I first wrote about this several days ago, but there’s now more clarity as to where these aircraft are coming from.

Etihad will start flying Airbus A321neos

Back in 2013, Etihad placed an order for 26 Airbus A321neos directly with Airbus, which were intended to renew the carrier’s fleet in the long run. However, that order has been deferred for an extended period of time, given that Etihad has been through quite some phases — first the airline was in a huge growth mode, then it tried to shrink into profitability, and now it’s trying to grow sustainably.

While it’s still not clear if/when Etihad will take delivery of factory fresh Airbus A321neos, the airline will be acquiring six used A321neos in 2024. As far as narrow body aircraft go, Etihad currently has 14 Airbus A320s and nine Airbus A321s in its fleet, which are an average of 12 and nine years old, respectively.

So, how is Etihad acquiring these planes? Well, Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways has been undergoing a major restructuring, and as part of this, the airline has terminated leases on most of its aircraft. The airline has parked six A321neos (the entirety of that fleet), and now those planes are coming to Etihad. The plan is that all six A321neos will join Etihad’s fleet before the end of the year.

AeroRoutes has the details of the initial routes to be operated by A321neos. The airline is expected to debut the aircraft between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Doha (DOH) as of May 1, 2024, with additional service in the subsequent weeks to destinations like Amman (AMM), Bahrain (BAH), Bangalore (BLR), Cairo (CAI), Delhi (DEL), Mumbai (BOM), Muscat (MCT), and more.

Bamboo Airways has dumped most of its aircraft

What should passengers expect onboard?

The six Airbus A321neos that Etihad is acquiring from Bamboo Airways are in three different kinds of configurations (efficient, I know!):

  • Three of them feature 198 seats, comprised of 16 business class seats and 182 economy seats
  • One of them features 208 seats, comprised of eight business class seats and 200 economy seats
  • Two of them feature 223 seats, comprised of eight business class seats and 215 economy seats

Last year I reviewed Bamboo Airways’ A321neo business class, to give you a sense of what to expect. These planes have seats that are somewhat similar to what you’ll find in domestic first class on a US airline.

Bamboo Airways Airbus A321neo business class

This isn’t materially different than the product you’ll find on Etihad’s current A321s, which have 196 seats, including eight business class seats and 188 economy seats.

Etihad Airways Airbus A321 business class seats

Etihad takes a bit of an unconventional approach with its narrow body aircraft. Arguably short haul flights within the Gulf have the highest standard of service of just about anywhere in the world. Yet Etihad no longer has personal televisions in economy on its narrow body jets, and business class is also more along the lines of what you’d find on a domestic flight within the United States.

So while the experience on the Bamboo Airways jets will be somewhat similar to the Etihad short haul business class experience, it won’t be terribly competitive with some of the products offered by Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Bottom line

Etihad Airways will begin flying Airbus A321neos as of May 2024. No, these A321neos aren’t from the batch of jets that were ordered directly from Airbus back in 2013, but rather Etihad is acquiring six used jets, which previously flew for Bamboo Airways.

These planes should be perfectly fine and help Etihad increase capacity. However, don’t expect anything too exciting in terms of passenger experience.

What do you make of Etihad’s Airbus A321neo plans?

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