Etihad Airways Drops LAX Route

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This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, but is just a further example of Etihad becoming a less global airline.

Etihad cuts Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles route

It would appear that Etihad Airways has permanently cut its Abu Dhabi (AUH) to Los Angeles (LAX) route, which was previously last consistently operated around the start of the pandemic. The airline is no longer even selling this route a year out, and for that matter Los Angeles has been removed as a destination from Etihad’s destinations page.

Etihad Airways first launched LAX flights back in 2014 (I was on the inaugural flight), and over the years the route has been operated by the A340-500, 777-200LR, and 777-300ER. At 8,340 miles, this was Etihad’s longest flight to North America, and one of the longest routes in the world.

This is the third route to the United States that Etihad has cut in recent years, as the airline ended its service to Dallas (DFW) and San Francisco (SFO) pre-pandemic, as the routes were unprofitable.

At this point Etihad’s only remaining destinations in the United States are Chicago (ORD), New York (JFK), and Washington (IAD).

At one point Etihad seemed pretty committed to the LAX market, as the airline even opened a lounge at the airport.

Etihad Airways used to have a lounge at LAX

Why would Etihad cut its Los Angeles route?

Even before the pandemic, Etihad had started a radical transformation in an effort to cut losses by 2023. The airline plans to shrink its way into profitability. As you might expect, the pandemic has only expedited that process.

For example, Etihad plans to retire its entire Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 fleet, so the airline will be significantly smaller than in the past. While Etihad has historically used a 777 for the Los Angeles route, it’s a route that could also be operated with a Boeing 787-9, or even with an Airbus A350-1000 (which the airline will soon start flying). However, the route likely wouldn’t feature first class, as Etihad now only has five planes with first class.

Etihad Airways is retiring its entire Boeing 777 fleet

So the problem isn’t that Etihad can’t operate the route, but rather that the economics probably just don’t make sense. With a much smaller fleet the airline is cutting its most unprofitable destinations, and I imagine Los Angeles was among those.

It always seemed to me like Etihad tried to hold onto the Los Angeles route for prestige, and I’d be surprised if the route was ever actually profitable. Who knows, maybe at some point in the future we’ll see the route return, but for now it seems to be done.

Bottom line

Etihad has cut its Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles route. At this point Etihad’s only remaining routes to the United States are to Chicago, New York, and Washington, following the airline cutting routes to Dallas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

This comes as Etihad is retiring its Boeing 777 fleet, which is the plane that the airline used to operate on this route. With a smaller long haul fleet, the airline will also have to be more selective about where it flies.

Are you surprised to see Etihad cut its Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles route?

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  1. JamesS

    Interestingly the AUH to JNB route is also not showing on the destination map anymore. They are still selling tickets for it though and I have a ticket booked through Aeroplan for November. Will be interesting to see if they will drop it too and how Aeroplan will try to reroute me?

  2. Steve

    If the hub and spoke model was starting to fade into oblivion before corona then surely it's going to be all but dead here soon. Even with minimal international travel i see travelers spending more money and effort ensuring they will not have to connect.

  3. Creditcrunch

    What a shame, Etihad really is streamlining, I wonder if US Pre Clearance is viable at AUH now with only 3 US destinations ( ORD, JFK, IAD )

    1. Mattux

      Good point. I am a big fan of US Pre-Clearance but it is hard to imagine this cost is justified with a sizably diminished network, and reduced capacity (smaller aircraft) within the surviving network.

    2. Pete

      Pre-clearance is such a bother and only works if a large percentage of an airport's international destinations is to the United States as it is in Canadian airports with such facilities. Otherwise, its a waste of real estate on an airport. That being said, I think closing the pre-clearance facility in AUH and setting one up in DXB or maybe long term DWC (assuming EK ever makes the move there) would be something worth exploring.

    3. Brian Hughes

      Shannon is still hanging in there with pre-clearance. No transatlantics since pre-Covid and likely only BOS and NYC and possibly PHL narrowbodies when it returns.

  4. Chris S.

    Would be super disappointing if not for the fact that last time I took that flight, my wife was offered a crew member’s nearly-flattened sandwich because they’d run out of food.

    1. KEVIN

      Etihad’s apartment will go down in aviation history as one of the most innovative F cabinet. I can see years from now, people reminiscing about it. After international flights normalized, maybe it’s time to rerank F cabinets again?

  5. Kaleb_With_A_K

    Not surprised at all. The planes were half empty even before the pandemic.

  6. Mattux

    It is sad watching the slow undoing of an airline that, at its best, was a true pleasure to fly.

  7. Jason murphy

    Im sure gonna miss seeing these flights come into los angeles and dispatching buses to handle the flight

  8. Olazo

    This is what happens when management chases market share and ignore the cost of operating one of the longest routes in their network, benchmarking carriers who are flying over the pacific and matching their lowest price shows the incompetence of the people managing the airline.

  9. shoeguy

    Not at all surprising but LAX is a major route. Etihad is shrinking down to a level where it will likely be absorbed by one of the ME3 in the next 3-5 years.

  10. Talent Hacker

    I think Etihad should completely drop all USA routes and let Qatar handle the show. Good riddance.

  11. Michael

    Etihad will become Gulf Air 2.0., small and in the big scheme of things irrelevant. If Etihad was serious about profitability it would stop the US operations alltogether, the costs to operate them are high compared to European routes (think about crew cost, and the cost of carrying the fuel needed to get over the Atlantic), and Etihad’s fares on these routes are too low to be profitable.
    But unfortunately they are just not...

    Etihad will become Gulf Air 2.0., small and in the big scheme of things irrelevant. If Etihad was serious about profitability it would stop the US operations alltogether, the costs to operate them are high compared to European routes (think about crew cost, and the cost of carrying the fuel needed to get over the Atlantic), and Etihad’s fares on these routes are too low to be profitable.
    But unfortunately they are just not very good at what they are doing. So expect little cuts here, little cuts there, until they reached Gulf Air’s level of operation.

  12. HkCaGu

    So does that mean TBIT will no longer have pre-cleared arrivals?

    1. ConcordeBoy

      Aer Lingus's flights are pre-cleared.

  13. ConcordeBoy

    "Etihad’s apartment will go down in aviation history as one of the most innovative F cabinet. "

    I believe "money-losing" was misspelled as "innovative" here.... as cool as they were to see, there's no way that that laughable use of space was revenue-positive.

    If some reports are to be believed, Etihad's median fare for those was less than $6500 in 2018; British Airways was getting more than that in some of their tertiary US...

    "Etihad’s apartment will go down in aviation history as one of the most innovative F cabinet. "

    I believe "money-losing" was misspelled as "innovative" here.... as cool as they were to see, there's no way that that laughable use of space was revenue-positive.

    If some reports are to be believed, Etihad's median fare for those was less than $6500 in 2018; British Airways was getting more than that in some of their tertiary US markets (Austin, New Orleans, Nashville) while using the arguably worst premium seat in the industry.

  14. Snaz

    Top heads mismanaged Gulf Air and now Etihad is a victim. A Good airline shrinking it’s network and painful to see a prestigious station closing down.

  15. MANISI

    Merge with Emirates; problem solved.

  16. Khurram

    I have travelled long haul from the US many times on Etihad from 2015 to 2018 that’s when I decided to never travel on it again.
    It went from really fabulous in 2015 to downright cheap real quick by 2018.
    When I travelled on it the last time even the seat were hard and not comfortable at all. The quality of food had dropped really low and traveling long haul its the food...

    I have travelled long haul from the US many times on Etihad from 2015 to 2018 that’s when I decided to never travel on it again.
    It went from really fabulous in 2015 to downright cheap real quick by 2018.
    When I travelled on it the last time even the seat were hard and not comfortable at all. The quality of food had dropped really low and traveling long haul its the food that makes all the difference. The food was so worse that on my last flight home from Abu Dhabi I totally refused to eat anything on flight and just decided I would eat when I get home.
    Also some places at the Abu Dhabi airport were getting so cramped that the distance of other people from you was maybe less than 6 inches.
    Having all that worse experience I said bye to this Airline for good.

  17. Sidharth Eradi

    I suggest that Etihad Airways could use their A380 on ultra long haul routes such as LAX, SFO, MEL, JFK. Such destinations have premium market demand. So please rethink before retiring the A380. Instead of having the Residence, they can just First Class Apartment, Business Studios, they can add Premium Economy in A380 and of course at last the Economy Class.

Featured Comments Load all 22 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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KEVIN

Etihad’s apartment will go down in aviation history as one of the most innovative F cabinet. I can see years from now, people reminiscing about it. After international flights normalized, maybe it’s time to rerank F cabinets again?

Mattux

It is sad watching the slow undoing of an airline that, at its best, was a true pleasure to fly.

Creditcrunch

What a shame, Etihad really is streamlining, I wonder if US Pre Clearance is viable at AUH now with only 3 US destinations ( ORD, JFK, IAD )

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