Etihad restructures aircraft orders after conclusion of talks with Airbus and Boeing

Etihad Aviation Group says it will take delivery of five A350s, 26 A321neos and six 777-9x "over the coming years"

Etihad will take order of six Boeing 777-9x aircraft. Roslan Rahman / AFP
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Etihad Aviation Group has confirmed that it will take delivery of a smaller number of the new long-range aircraft developed by Airbus and Boeing after concluding negotiations with the manufacturers to restructure "a large portion of its previous orders".

The parent of Etihad Airways said on Thursday that it had initiated the discussions following a strategic review of the group aimed at helping the airline recover from heavy losses since 2016.

After successful talks it has agreed "over the coming years" to take delivery of five long-range A350-1000 aircraft and 26 A321neos from European manufacturer Airbus and to take six of the 777-9x from the US plane maker Boeing.

“This will enable the airline to further progress its transformation and adjust to its new operating model,” the group said.

All parties have agreed not to disclose further details of the agreements.

The group will also continue to take delivery of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, of which Etihad Airways already operates 29.

In 2013, Etihad agreed firm orders with Airbus for 87 planes, including the 26 A321neos, 40 of the A350-900 and 10 of the A350-1000 aircraft. Deliveries of the A350s were scheduled to begin in 2020. Also in 2013, Etihad ordered 17 of the highly-efficient 777-9x and 8 of the 777-8x aircraft, again part of a bigger agreement with Boeing for 56 planes valued at more than $25 billion at list prices.

"The balance of the remaining orders will be defined at a later time through rescheduling, restructuring or reduction," the group said.

The “constructive discussions and their satisfactory outcome” between the group and the world's two leading plane makers will support Abu Dhabi's wider ambitions to continue the expansion of its international aviation network.

The National also understands that none of the Boeing or Airbus contracts with Strata Manufacturing, the Al Ain aircraft parts maker, including for the 777x, are impacted by the changes to the Etihad order book.

Now that the negotiations with Airbus and Boeing are concluded, Etihad Airways can "concentrate on the phased introduction of new aircraft types, enabling an efficient rationalisation” of its fleet, the group said.

“Etihad already operates one of the most technologically advanced fleets in the world and the delivery of these latest-generation aircraft will further strengthen this position”.

The A350 - which is already in operation - and the 777x have been developed with efficiency, capacity and flying range top of mind. This means they should be far cheaper to operate compared to older generations of aircraft.