AbuDhabi-based Etihad will be downsizing Melbourne this winter and removing its A380 from the route.

With media attention currently focused on Emirates it is easy to overlook what’s happening at nearby Etihad.

According to, Etihad’s winter schedules from October 29 show a capacity reduction of almost 200 seats daily between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne.

Both Melbourne flights will be downgraded to smaller aircraft.

This move by Etihad demonstrates the growing overcapacity on a number of long-haul routes around the world.

What is surprising in the case of Melbourne is that Etihad is making this move during the peak season for travel between Europe and Australia.

It’s a time of year which airlines flying to Australia find most profitable.   They can easily fill their planes even when the prices are at their highest for Europe-Australia travellers.

Many European travellers will be concerned about the service reduction on the Melbourne route.  Indeed they are probably not yet aware as airlines/agents take time to notify passengers.

And it’s not just the capacity. Many Business Traveller readers are fans of the A380 and have strong seat preferences when travelling business and first class.

Remember Etihad’s A380 is the only aircraft in its fleet which boasts its top class The Residence which is arguably the most luxurious and spacious first class aloft.

And with the AbuDhabi-Melbourne flight taking some 13hrs 30 mins you need all the comfort and space you can get.

Economy passengers will notice the latter. They will find themselves accommodated nine-across (3-3-3) on the B787 Dreamliner.

And Etihad’s B787 is two-class only so there is no option of upgrading either to premium economy (which this airline does not offer anyway) or first class.

Etihad operates a twice daily AbuDhabi-Melbourne service which is fed by many connections from both Europe and the Middle East.

  • Flights EY460/461 currently operated by the A380 will be downgraded to the B777-300ER.
  • Flights EY462/463 which are currently rostered by a B777-300ER will now be operated by a B787-9.