Excellent news coming from Etihad Airways this afternoon as the Abu Dhabi-based carrier just confirmed the return of four Airbus A380 Superjumbos to regular service, starting in the Summer of 2023.
Etihad has announced on Twitter that four of the aircraft will be put back on the Abu Dhabi-London Route in mid-2023 following a service program to make the aircraft fully airworthy after they’ve been parked all this time.
The Etihad A380’s became sort of legendary after the introduction of the new First Class Apartments and especially The Residence, which is only available on the A380.
The good news first came via Twitter this afternoon:
OUR A380s ARE COMING BACK! 👏👏👏
You read that right. From Summer 2023, our iconic A380s will make their return with 4x super-jumbos launched for service to London. 🥳
— Etihad Airways (@etihad) December 9, 2022
It’s interesting that Etihad plans to use all of the A380’s to London and not any other destination. Is there really no high capacity demand on any other route?
The website Etihad reactivated for the A380 simply says:
From summer 2023, travel between Abu Dhabi and London on your favourite A380 and create unforgettable memories.
While on Twitter there is at least the addition:
From Summer 2023, our iconic A380s will make their return with 4x super-jumbos launched for service to London.
The carrier did issue a separate press release, outlining the basis for their decision as well as future fleet planning targets:
Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the United Arab Emirates, has announced it is reintroducing four of its A380s from the summer of 2023.
The move follows a surge in demand for air travel across the airline’s network and customer feedback for the return of one of the most remarkable commercial flying experiences in the sky.
His Excellency Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “It is wonderful to announce the return of this splendid aircraft. The A380’s reintroduction provides a further boost to Etihad’s capacity into the key UK market, with a knock-on effect for the wider GCC and Indian subcontinent that will bring more visitors to the city of Abu Dhabi.”
Antonoaldo Neves, Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Airways, said: “We know this will be welcomed by our guests who love Etihad’s incredible A380 and its award-winning cabins. We have decided the time is right to return some of our A380s into the fleet to satisfy the demand which has made them financially viable once more. We look forward to welcoming our guests again on board this remarkable aircraft.”
Etihad’s A380s feature The Residence as well as three cabin classes on the double-decker aircraft, including 9 First Apartments, 70 Business Studios and 405 Economy Smart Seats. This includes 80 Economy Space seats with a seat pitch of up to 36 inches. …
Etihad expects to return four of its A380s to the fleet in the summer of 2023, with plans to operate to London Heathrow, freeing up capacity for increased frequencies on existing routes and the launch of new destinations.
The A380s’ return will be supported by the addition of five of their smaller A320 siblings.
Etihad is currently preparing the aircraft to fly again, and part of this preparation includes the recruitment and training of A380 teams, including pilots, cabin crew and technical ground staff.
Overall, aside from the limited route deployment, these are very welcome news for travelers who like to fly the A380, which despite being already considered retired by most operators, is now making a spectacular comeback across the board.
Airlines that had already shelved their A380s at various storage places across the world are now pulling them back into service, which proves to be a very costly undertaking.
Pilots need to be brought back to current flight training levels, cabin crew needs to be trained as well, and these planes have been sitting around since the pandemic so a thorough technical check is required to even get them in the air to fly back to their airline’s hubs, let alone enter passenger service.
Some carriers such as Lufthansa are pretty much forced to take them back as the Boeing 777X (777-900) is now delayed until 2025 at the earliest.
In the case of Etihad, being a hub carrier that relies exclusively on feeder flights and redistribution of passengers via their Abu Dhabi hub, the A380 has clear advantages yet the carrier decided to retire them hastily.
One can’t help but wonder if this decision by airline CEO’s turn out to be some of the biggest, most costly mistakes of the aviation industry when we look back a few decades from now.
Etihad Airways has started a program to reactivate four Airbus A380 for regular passenger service between Abu Dhabi and London Heathrow from Summer 2023.
Preparations will begin immediately and the aircraft will undergo maintenance checks by the technical department while the carrier will start to retrain flight- and cabin crew. It will take a good six months to complete the program and get the aircraft and crew airworthy again.