About a year ago, most of the airlines operating the A380 brought these fleets ashore due to a lack of demand. Since then, both Air France and Lufthansa have announced plans to permanently withdraw their entire A380 fleet. Meanwhile, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines have announced a partial withdrawal from their A380 fleets, while other airlines have not made a decision one way or another.
Air France has discontinued its entire A380 fleet
If the CEO of Etihad Airways is to be believed, it is becoming more and more likely that the Abu Dhabi-based airline will follow the lead of Air France and Lufthansa.
Etihad “very likely” to retire A380
There have been many questions about the future of Etihad’s A380 fleet, which has been on the ground for almost a year. The airline has a fleet of 10 super jumbos, which are on average around five years old. Etihad delivered its first A380 at the end of 2014 and its latest A380 in mid-2017.
What’s the latest in Etihad’s A380 fleet? It does not look good. Tony Douglas, CEO of Etihad Airways, stated in an interview that it is “very likely” that the A380 will not be used again for Etihad. To quote him directly:
“We have now made the strategic decision to park the A380. I am sure it is very likely that you will not work with Etihad again.”
For one connection only, Douglas stated about six months ago that, in one way or another, Etihad hadn’t made a decision about the future of the A380:
“Everyone loves the A380. It sounds. They know the product it is presenting and the grace with which it does so. It was the high point for so long, the industry leader. As for the question of whether they will ever fly again to be direct in a moment, I would say the jury is out.
I think it’s severely hampered by two too many engines and other planes that can do the job far more efficiently and sustainably. So I’m not trying to rule out the A380, it would break my heart even more to do so at this point. But in the same way that 747s were finally phased out almost everywhere, we are now likely to see an acceleration of the same with the global A380 fleet. “
It’s pretty clear how Etihad’s deliberations are developing, and at this point I’d be shocked if the airline brought the A380 back.
Etihad Airways A380
Etihad’s Problem: A380 Halo Effect vs. Cost Reduction
Etihad is particularly difficult when it comes to the A380 as the airline’s business model has transited from one extreme to the other. The state-owned airline struggled long before the current pandemic and has lost over $ 6 billion in the past five years.
A few years ago, Etihad wanted to become a major global airline, and Etihad believed that the Airbus A380 was associated with a massive “halo” effect and attraction. Now Etihad is trying to become more of a niche airline, mainly serving travelers traveling to and from Abu Dhabi (though that never will – the airline will always rely primarily on connecting travelers to occupy seats ). The airline is also trying to work its way towards profitability.
How does the A380 fit into Etihad’s plans?
- On the one hand, the A380 offers a lot more capacity than Etihad is likely to need at any time in the next few years, and the hell more capacity than ever before if it wants to be primarily a niche airline serving Abu Dhabi
- On the other hand, I hate to say it, but without the A380, Etihad has limited appeal as an airline
Of course, Allure doesn’t pay the bills, but the Etihad A380 is frankly what the airline award is in any way, and without it the airline would be unforgettable. Etihad has done a phenomenal job with the A380 First Class Apartments and of course the famous three-bedroom butler-service suite known as The Residence.
Etihad Airways A380 First Class Apartments
Etihad Airways A380 residence
Although no official announcement has been made, the Etihad CEO stated at the time that it is “very likely” that the airline will withdraw its A380 fleet. Six months ago, the airline didn’t seem so sure. To me, this suggests that Etihad will retire its A380 fleet.
Etihad is indeed in a difficult position as it moves from wanting to be a global airline that rivals Emirates to a niche airline that minimizes losses.
I have to say I would be totally exhausted if Etihad took the A380 out of service. Etihad has such an impressive configuration on the A380, and for me it means the end of the “good old days” of Etihad.
Does anyone have any hope for the Etihad A380?
(Tip of the hat closed @spencerformiles)