Etihad is switching from its double-decker Airbus A380 superjumbo to the smaller Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on one of its two daily non-stop flights between Abu Dhabi and Sydney this winter season.
The Boeing aircraft will take over Etihad’s flights EY450 and EY451 starting October 28 this year and will largely continue to operate the daily service until May 30, 2019.
There are a few dates that are exceptions, however. From December 5-16, 2018 and from January 30 to February 6, 2019, flights EY450 and EY451 will revert to being operated by the A380.
Etihad’s other daily return flight on the route, EY454 and EY455, will continue to be flown by the A380 throughout this period.
So what does this mean for passengers?
For starters, premium travellers that find themselves on the 777 won’t have the option of an onboard lounge, as is offered on the A380.
Fortunately, however, it does look as though first class will still be available. Etihad has three configurations for its 777-300ER – only one of which has a first class cabin – but the airline’s website still lists first class as being available for booking on the 777-operated flights.
That being said, the first class seats on each aircraft do differ quite noticeably.
The overall availability of business class seats will also drop by half. The A380 offers a total of 80 seats in the business class cabin, all of which are located on the upper deck. The 777, meanwhile, has just 40 in the three-class configuration.
The 777 also offers a different business class seat product than the A380. While both of these are laid out 1-2-1 in a staggered formation, meaning all passengers get direct aisle access, the layouts are slightly different. Most notably, the A380’s seats alternate between being forward-facing and backwards facing, while those on the 777 all face forward.
The economy class cabins on both aircraft, meanwhile, are laid out 10-across in a 3-4-3 configuration.
Etihad’s shift to the 777 on its Sydney route is set to come just after the end of the airline’s non-stop flights between Abu Dhabi and Perth, which will cease to operate from the beginning of October.