Etihad Airways to reintroduce its Airbus A380 fleet

Four superjumbos will be back in the skies in the summer of 2023

An Etihad Airbus A380 at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Ravindranath K / The National
Powered by automated translation

Etihad Airways has announced it will reintroduce its Airbus A380 fleet to help meet a surge in demand.

The UAE airline expects to return four of its superjumbos to the fleet in the summer of 2023, with plans to operate to London Heathrow.

It grounded the A380 in November 2020 as it adopted a leaner business model to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic's effect on the aviation industry.

“It is wonderful to announce the return of this splendid aircraft,” said Mohammed Al Shorafa, chairman of the Etihad Aviation Group.

“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.”

The return of the A380 will free up capacity for increased frequencies on existing routes and the launch of new destinations, the airline said.

The A380s' return will be supported by the addition of five of their smaller A320 siblings.

Etihad is 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.

While airlines around the world grounded the A380 during the pandemic, it has made somewhat of a revival this year as travel demand has rebounded.

Australian airline Qantas is set to bring back the sixth A380 of its fleet of 10 later this month, while British Airways will operate more A380 flights by the end of the year than it did before Covid-19.

Meanwhile, Dubai's Emirates has introduced a third daily A380 flight to London Gatwick Airport, and is also flying the world's largest passenger plane to Auckland for the first time in about three years.

The airline operates the superjumbo to 41 cities in 27 countries, with Malaysia joining New Zealand as the latest addition to the network. More destinations are expected to be added early next year.

Figures released last week by the World Travel and Tourism Council found that the public's appetite for travel is now at its highest since the global pandemic, with more than 63 per cent of people planning to take at least one trip in the next 12 months.

Etihad swung to a record profit in the first half of 2022 — the highest in its 18-year history — citing a strong rebound in passenger travel demand, growth in cargo revenue and the lifting of domestic Covid-19 curbs.

It carried 4.02 million passengers in the first half of 2022, more than quadrupling the 980,000 passengers flown in the same period last year.

Updated: May 19, 2023, 4:13 PM