Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways is planning to lay off 1,200 employees as it considers permanently grounding its Airbus A380s and never operating the A350s it has ordered, company and industry sources said.
Etihad: Airbus A380s will return, Airbus A350 deliveries to follow The superjumbo will fly again, Etihad promises, and it'll be joined by the new Airbus A350-1000.
(...) Etihad Airways says it has no plans to ditch its flagship Airbus A380s and remains "committed to the delivery" of the Airbus A350-1000, although "the global network" is under review in light of the impact of the coronavirus on worldwide travel demand.
All ten of the Gulf carrier's superjumbos – home to the opulent three-room Residence and nine spacious first class Apartment suites – remain grounded, with Etihad's current schedule relying on the Boeing 777 and Boeing 787.
An earlier report by news service Reuters claimed the fate of the A380 hinged on forecasts of the post-coronavirus travel market.
However, an Etihad spokesman assured Executive Traveller that "the Airbus A380 remains an important part of the Etihad fleet and is well suited to a number of key routes, which are planned to be gradually reintroduced once international restrictions are lifted, and global travel picks up."
Likewise, he denied claims that the airline could cancel its outstanding order for the Airbus A350-1000, saying "Etihad is also committed to the delivery of its future fleet of Airbus A350-1000s and has selected the routes to be operated by this aircraft."
Etihad has 20 A350-1000s on order, the first of which were due to begin flying in 2019. The airline has yet to detail if those jets would include four first class suites similar to those of its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, or if the A350s will top out at business class using the airline's Business Studio seats.
The Abu Dhabi-based carrier's chief executive officer Tony Douglas said that he was not sure if the airline's Airbus A380 superjumbo jets will ever return or how many A350s are needed.
"The point really is to concentrate on the backbone, and the backbone for us is the 787," Douglas said on Bloomberg Television.
On swapping 777X order for Dreamliner, Douglas said: "At the moment we haven't got a fixed date for delivery on 777X, and given that we have parked so many of our aircraft – for example our 380s, I'm not sure we'll ever operate them again."
“You never say never in life on just about anything”
“If the big thick routes come back post-pandemic, if the volume, i.e. the load factors get back to high utilization, but most importantly… the yield on the ticket gets back, it can be economically viable to get [the A380s] back into the air. Nothing would give us greater satisfaction.”
“Like all other airlines, we’re not a registered charity. We have to be very commercial in all of the undertakings and the decisions that we make.”