Is this the end for Etihad’s Airbus A380 aircraft?

G Tipene /

While the future of Etihad Airways’ Airbus A380 was unclear since the pandemic disrupted international travel, recent statements by the airline’s chief executive might point to the idea that the Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based carrier will not operate any A380s as the world opens up once again.

Etihad Airways chief executive officer (CEO) Tony Douglas provided an update on the airline, including its short-term fleet deployment plans.

“We have now taken the strategic decision to park the A380s, I’m sure it’s very likely that we won’t see them operating with Etihad again,” Douglas was quoted as saying, as reported by UEA’s The National News. The airline’s 10 Super Jumbos were parked in March 2020. Four of them were later moved to Tarbes Airport (LDE) in France, where an aircraft recycling facility is located. The first Airbus A380, registered as A6-APA, left for LDE on November 5, 2020, while A6-APB, A6-APC and A6-API were repositioned to the French airport in December 2020 and January 2021.

Going forward, Etihad’s backbone will be the Boeing 787. The Airbus A350, of which five were delivered and immediately placed into storage at Bordeaux–Mérignac Airport (BOD), will not see the light of day until at least 2023, pointed out the executive.

In total, Etihad Airways has 40 Airbus A350 aircraft on order, with 40 Boeing 787 already in its fleet. However, Its 40th Dreamliner was immediately placed into storage in Victorville Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV) in the United States.

The question of when the UAE-based airline would get its Boeing 777X is up in the air, as according to Douglas he is not sure Boeing themselves know, as “it will probably be some time until they can answer it intelligently because of the COVID-19 impact.”

In its latest financial result announcement on March 4, 2021, Etihad Airways indicated that it ended 2020 with a staggering operating loss of $1.7 billion, compared to a loss of $800 million a year prior. The airline, which has been looking to reduce its losses since 2017, aims to achieve “a complete turnaround by 2023.”


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