Etihad will fly its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft on all of its services to China as of July 1 when its daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Chengdu get an upgauge that will see the 787-9 take over from the Airbus A330-200.
The airline’s daily Shanghai service will also be seeing a change in aircraft on the same day, though it will be going from the older 787-9 to the new 787-10.
The new aircraft deployment will mean that Etihad’s Dreamliners will operate all 28 of its weekly services to China, which serve Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Hong Kong. Etihad announced last month that the 787-9 would be returning to the Hong Kong route starting March 31.
Etihad’s 787-9s are configured with 299 seats, comprising 28 of its Business Studios (pictured above) and 271 economy class seats. It’s newer – and larger – 787-10s, meanwhile, offer 32 Business Studios and 304 economy class seats.
The Business Studios offer fully flat 80.5-inch-long beds upholstered in Poltrona Frau leather, and include an in-seat massage function.
“The move marks a milestone for Etihad as all our Chinese gateways will now be served by these technologically advanced aircraft, ensuring our guests experience the latest in-flight product innovations,” said Robin Kamark, chief commercial officer of Etihad Aviation Group.
“China is an incredibly important market for Etihad and we have significantly grown our presence there since launching services to Beijing in 2008.”
Rival Middle-Eastern carriers Emirates and Qatar Airways also have made moves in the China market recently. Emirates announced earlier this month that it had entered into a codesharing agreement with China’s largest airline by passenger numbers, China Southern.
Qatar Airways, meanwhile, bought a 5 per cent stake in China Southern at the end of December.