As worldwide travel shrunk over the last couple of years, jumbo jets like the Airbus A380 found themselves grounded due to lack of passenger traffic. That particularly hurt Emirates with their A380-heavy fleet but also affected the luxury options of airlines that flew the A380, like the Etihad First Apartments and the Etihad Residence.
Etihad First Apartments May Be Coming Back…
The Etihad CEO, Tony Douglas, told Insider that they are not ready to be done yet with their jumbo A380 jets. This is due to high demand for international travel again and airlines hitting different routes to meet the demand. But, he also said that, if it does return, it will not be a permanent fixture on their schedule.
This would be a temporary addition while Etihad works to grow their fleet with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350-1000 XWB. These are more sustainable aircraft and work better for the route network that Etihad has going forward.
So, what will determine if Etihad brings any/all of their 10 A380 airplanes out of mothballs? They need to see that the economics of adding an airplane with almost 500 seats will work for them. Basically, it needs to make them money. So, they need to see what kind of demand is coming on their biggest routes.
Before they went into storage, Etihad flew their A380 planes to several big cities like New York City, London, Sydney, and a few other cities. Their First Class cabin and Business Studio on other airplanes are also really great and well-designed but the standout feature of the A380 is the First Apartment and the Residence cabin. Etihad needs to see that there is a strong desire (backed by cash fares, not just awards, of course!) for these unique cabins to bring back the A380, not just that they can fill the many economy seats of the double-decker.
So, keep an eye out for this! If the Etihad Airbus A380 does come back, it will not be back for long! So, make sure you have miles ready to book if the opportunity opens up! Some great miles to use for this are American Airline miles or Aeroplan miles so keep this in mind. I certainly would not mind taking one more flight in the First Apartment! I took my oldest daughter on a trip years ago and it would be fun to do it one more time before they are gone forever – or one of my sons who were quite jealous of her experience. 🙂