Earlier I wrote about how Etihad will start flying the Airbus A380 between Abu Dhabi and New York as of April 2024. This is an exciting development, because when Etihad brought back the A380 in July 2023, the plan was to fly the aircraft exclusively to London. As it turns out, this isn’t the only change coming to Etihad’s service to the United States…
In this post:
Etihad will send three cabin Boeing 787 to New York
Currently Etihad’s only route to the United States with first class is the carrier’s daily Abu Dhabi to Washington flight. That will soon be changing. As of April 22, 2024:
- Etihad’s Abu Dhabi to Washington route will be swapped from a three cabin 787 to a two cabin 787, meaning it will no longer feature first class
- Etihad’s second daily Abu Dhabi to New York flight (the non-A380 frequency) will be swapped from a two cabin 787 to a three cabin 787, meaning it will start to feature first class
What are the implications of this for passengers?
- The three cabin plane has eight first class seats, the two cabin plane has no first class seats
- The three cabin and two cabin planes both have 28 business class seats
- The three cabin plane has 195 economy seats, the two cabin plane has 271 economy class seats
As you can see, the two cabin plane has a net 68 additional seats — it has 76 extra economy seats, at the expense of eight first class seats.
For context, Etihad’s daily Boeing 787-9 frequency to New York operates with the following schedule:
EY101 Abu Dhabi to New York departing 10:50AM arriving 4:55PM
EY100 New York to Abu Dhabi departing 10:35PM arriving 7:30PM (+1 day)
Meanwhile Etihad’s daily Boeing 787-9 frequency to Washington operates with the following schedule:
EY131 Abu Dhabi to Washington departing 10:10AM arriving 4:35PM
EY130 Washington to Abu Dhabi departing 10:0PM arriving 7:00PM (+1 day)
Etihad currently has a fleet of roughly 30 Boeing 787-9s, though only five of them feature first class. They’re used primarily for flights to Washington (soon New York), London, and Geneva.
What’s the logic for this aircraft swap?
It’s interesting to consider how service to New York and Washington has evolved for Etihad:
- Back in the day, Etihad offered double daily A380 flights to New York, and the airline has also long offered once daily 787 flights to Washington with first class
- At the start of the pandemic, Etihad completely cut first class from New York, and instead focused on Washington
- Logically (without having access to any data), you’d assume that there’s more first class demand to New York than Washington, and that placing the aircraft with first class to Washington was more about capital-to-capital prestige than anything else
- That being said, I heard that first class demand to Washington was actually pretty decent, and perhaps the reason the two cabin plane was being sent to New York is because it was more profitable to have an extra 68 seats (since there are 76 extra economy seats, at the expense of eight first class seats)
I have to say, I’m really impressed by Etihad’s current management team. The airline is trying to grow in a rational way, and hopes to double its fleet and triple its passenger numbers by the end of the decade. Prior to the current management team, Etihad went from lighting money on fire as if there was no tomorrow, to cutting and scaling back as if there was no tomorrow.
While I don’t have access to actual premium demand levels, logically it seems that if Etihad wants to compete in the New York market, it’s great to offer first class on both daily frequencies, so that the airline can offer more schedule options to prospective first class passengers.
Etihad is making quite some changes to its United States service. While the biggest development is that Etihad will be bringing the Airbus A380 back to New York, that’s not the only change. Also as of April 2024, the airline will start flying a Boeing 787 with first class to New York, though it comes at the expense of first class on the Washington flight.
That means Etihad will offer double daily first class to New York, which is kind of cool. I can’t help but wonder if the Etihad Lounge New York may finally reopen, or if the airline has given up on that? Does anyone know the latest on that? Is Etihad even renting that space anymore?
What do you make of Etihad dropping first class to Washington, and doubling down on New York?