Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has reaffirmed its commitment to start Airbus A380 and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner operations in December 2014, with additional flights on sale this week for both aircraft and an extensive pilot training program now underway.
During its first year of operations, the Airbus A380 will be deployed on Etihad Airways' three daily flights between Abu Dhabi and London, together with selected flights to Sydney, which was today confirmed as the second destination to be served by the aircraft.
Between December 2014 and June 2015, the Boeing 787-9 will be introduced on six of the airline's routes, including Düsseldorf, Doha, Washington DC, Mumbai, Brisbane and Moscow.
Etihad Airways will debut its exciting new First, Business and Economy Class products onboard the forthcoming aircraft, and will also introduce The Residence by Etihad™, a ground-breaking concept exclusive to its Airbus A380, which features the only three-room cabin in the sky.
James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said: "Our initial Airbus A380 and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flights have been on sale for almost four months and demand has exceeded our expectations, showing that the public share our passion for comfort, service, hospitality and style.
"The Airbus A380 and Boeing 787-9 will play a fundamental role in the development of Etihad Airways' network. On existing high demand routes such as London and Sydney, the A380 will provide additional seatsand meet demand for increased capacity, especially in First and Business Class. The Boeing 787-9 will be used to launch flights to new destinations, add capacity in existing markets and progressively replace existing, less-efficient aircraft."
Etihad Airways has a total of 10 Airbus A380s on firm order, the first of which will be delivered later this year. The aircraft will initially operate on services between Abu Dhabi and London Heathrow, starting with flights EY11 and EY12 from 27 December 2014, EY17 and EY18 from 1 March 2015, and EY19 and EY20 from 1 May 2015. As a result, Etihad Airways' London Heathrow route will be served exclusively by Airbus A380 aircraft from next year.
Tickets can alsobe purchased on Etihad Airways' Airbus A380 service between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, with the aircraft operating on selected flights from 1 June 2015.
Each Airbus A380 is designed to carry 496passengers in four living spaces, including two VIP guests in The Residence by Etihad™, nine guests in the innovative First Class Apartments, 70 guests in the new Business Class Studios, and 415guests in Economy Class.
Etihad Airways has 71 Boeing 787s on order, including 41 B787-9s and 30 B787-10s, making it the world's largest operator of the aircraft type. Deliveries commence this year and the aircraft will operate on the Düsseldorfand Doha routes from December 2014, followed by Washington DC and Mumbai from 1 January 2015, and Brisbane and Moscow from 1 June 2015.
Mr Hogan said: "With additional routes for our Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 now on sale, passengers have a unique opportunity to experience the most advanced cabins in aviation history. This applies on services between our Abu Dhabi hub and the selected routes, and seamlessly on connecting services where Abu Dhabi is a stopover. For instance, once the A380 is operating between Abu Dhabi and London Heathrow, and Abu Dhabi and Sydney, our passengers can fly on the aircraft between London and Sydney from June 2015."
In preparation for their entry into service, Etihad Airways commenced a training program for the Airbus A380 in January 2014 and the Boeing 787-9 in February 2014. A total of 149 pilots are undergoing a combination of simulator and classroom training, in addition to flying the aircraft with other airlines that already operate the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The training program will be enhanced following the recent arrival of an Airbus A380 Full Flight Simulator and Airbus Pilot Transition Trainer at Etihad Training Academy in Abu Dhabi. The equipment, supplied by Canadian manufacturer CAE, is now being commissioned by Etihad Airways and CAE, and is expected to become operational in mid-September.
CAE will deliver Etihad Airways' first Boeing 787 Simulator and Integrated Procedure Trainer next month, followed by an additional trainer and two simulators between 2017 and 2019.
A series of test flights will also be conducted with Etihad Airways' first Airbus A380 and Boeing 787-9 prior to their entry into service. The aircraft will be flown around Gulf airspace, with cabin crew also onboard to familiarise themselves with the layout and conduct test meal services.