Etihad has announced a refit of its A320 and A321 aircraft, removing seatback screens in economy and adding wireless IFE streaming technology.

A total of 23 aircraft will be retrofitted by August this year, with new ‘Extra-spatial Design’ economy seating introduced, manufactured by UK-based firm Acro.

The carrier says the new seats will offer increased knee room, and “are cleverly designed around the guest’s digital devices with fast-charging USB points and an adjustable phone and tablet holder”.

Passengers will be able to choose from over 300 hours of free IFE content to stream to personal devices, while “premium TV programming” and movies will be available via a new E-box Stream app.

It’s understood that the move will save Etihad around 18 tonnes in aircraft weight per year, helping to reduce fuel costs. The airline stressed that seat back screens will remain standard in economy throughout its wide-bodied Airbus and Boeing aircraft. The A320 and A321s are used on short-haul regional services and longer routes up to five hours in length.

Etihad said it is also refreshing soft products in economy, including new blankets, pillows and headrest covers.

In addition the carrier is launching a revamped economy dining service on all routes, with a larger main course on flights over three hours, a new curved triangular base plate design made with recycled materials, and “85 per cent lighter” cutlery – again a move to reduce aircraft weight and fuel burn.

Earlier this month Etihad announced plans to to cut usage of single-use plastics across the organisation by 80 per cent by the end of 2022

On longer flights desserts will now be served separately with the after-meal coffee, “reducing clutter on the tray during the main meal”, and the carrier’s buy-on-board menu has been expanded, with partnerships with Bateel, Starbucks, Thorntons, Cawston Press, Heavenly, Perrier and Barebells.

In March Etihad reported a loss of just under US$1.3 billion for its core airline operations in 2018, as the carrier continues a five-year transformation programme, which has seen route rationalisation, the removal of premium chauffeur drive services at international destinations, the introduction of buy-on-board choicesthe launch of a new Economy Space seating option, and the outsourcing of selected lounges to No1 Lounges.