Etihad Airways CEO hints at possible temporary return of the A380

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Since the pandemic hit, most airlines have indefinitely ‘parked’ their A380’s due to operational inefficiency.

Almost two years on, some airlines, like British Airways, have returned its A380 to the skies. While some airlines have declared that its A380s will not be coming back ‘for good’, Etihad Airways has always been open to the possibility of the A380 returning to the skies, even though the carrier believes that it “does not make economic sense”.

Speaking to Business Insider, Etihad Airways CEO Tony Douglas said that there is still a possibility that the airline may bring the A380 back to the skies but “only if certain market conditions are met.”

“For the last 18 months, (the A380s are) out because the economics don’t work,” Douglas said about the challenges of filling seats on the flight. “The market has only really come back in the past two months, it’s probably too early to say.”

And while Douglas says Etihad will “never say never” to the A380, he was also quick to state that he is not a “registered charity”, saying that the comeback has to be greatly justified.

“I’d never say never but they’re not in the plan at the moment,” Douglas said. “If the economics don’t work, I’m not a registered charity. They’re (A380s) out. … If I was ever minded to bring them back, it would have to be business justified in terms of volume and yield but it would then only be a stopgap until we take more deliveries of (other planes). Because the minute I’ve got these (other aircraft), I can then do the same job in a far more efficient way.”

Another hurdle in the A380’s return is its operational costs. Moving forward, sustainability is a big focus for the airline. The costs involved in keeping, operating and maintaining the A380 cannot coexist with the airline’s green future in the long-term. 

Currently, Etihad’s fleet of 10 A380s are parked in storage and have not flown for more than a year. 

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