Etihad Airways has started passenger flights with its A350-1000 aircraft, over two years after the carrier placed five of the newly delivered planes into storage.
As we reported back in September 2019, Etihad put the aircraft into storage as part of a business transformation plan which also saw it cancel an order for 42 A350-900s.
Two and a half years and a Covid-19 pandemic later and the first of the A350-1000s has finally entered service – initially operating on mid-haul routes to destinations including Mumbai and Delhi, before being rostered onto longer routes including Chicago and New York from July.
The aircraft have been fitted with Etihad’s new business class suite – a customised version of Collins Aerospace’s Super Diamond seat (the same as that used for British Airways’ Club Suite).
The cabin features 44 forward-facing suites with sliding privacy doors, as well as a 79-inch bed, 18.5-inch IFE screen with bluetooth headset pairing, wireless charging capabilities, and an adjustable dining table “with book holder and integrated headphone hook”.
Readers can take a virtual tour of the business class cabin here.
Economy seats meanwhile feature 13-inch IFE screens – again with Bluetooth headset pairing, as well as integrated headset and charging ports, and a personal device holder – a virtual tour of this cabin can be seen here.
There are a total of 327 economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration, with 45 of these assigned as Economy Space seats and offering four extra inches of legroom.
Commenting on the news Tony Douglas, Group chief executive officer, said:
“The Airbus A350 is an absolutely incredible aircraft, and we are proud to introduce it into the Etihad Airways network today. Our teams have worked closely together to craft a product and travel proposition that will ensure every journey with Etihad is a choice well made – both for our guests and for the planet.
With highly efficient fuel consumption and CO2 savings, the A350 will support our goals to reduce carbon emissions and deliver an unmatched flight experience for our guests.”
The introduction of Etihad’s A350s comes amid fellow Gulf carrier Qatar Airways’ ingoing battle with Airbus over surface degradation to its A350 aircraft, which has seen the airline ground its fleet of A350-900 and A350-1000s.