Etihad plans to retire Boeing 777 fleet in major wide-body shift

Apr 22, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Compared to its Dubai-based neighbor Emirates, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad operates a relatively small wide-body fleet. As we learned on Thursday, it’s about to get even smaller.

Following a similar decision to discontinue flights with the double-decker Airbus A380, Etihad CEO Tony Douglas shared plans to stop flying the wide-body Boeing 777 after 2021, according to a Reuters report. Etihad’s move follows a similar early retirement for Delta, which discontinued Boeing 777 flights last year.

Beginning in 2022, Etihad will be moving to what the airline believes will be a more efficient long-haul fleet of wide-body jets. Flyers will likely end up on one of the dozens of Boeing 787-9 and 787-10 Dreamliners that the airline has been operating for several years.

The airline may begin flying its Airbus A350s soon, as well. Etihad previously planned to add a total of 20 of the extended-length Airbus A350-1000s to its fleet — four have already been delivered, but were immediately placed into storage. It’s not yet clear when they’ll begin flying passengers.

With many Etihad Dreamliners only offering a business-class cabin, first-class redemptions may be more difficult to come by. (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

The early retirement of Etihad’s largest planes could lead to fewer first-class options, especially for travelers looking to lock in an award. There will likely be fewer seats available overall, and while some of the airline’s Dreamliners do offer a first-class cabin, the product is a far cry from the version previously available on the Airbus A380.

Some flyers have expressed concerns that the shift from larger planes, like the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777, could lead to a move away from flashy first-class cabins. While the 787 is not quite as wide as Boeing’s current 777, airlines have gotten especially creative with their 787 premium cabins, as I experienced on Oman Air’s Dreamliner in 2019.

Boeing is still planning to introduce the larger 777X as well. While we’re unlikely to see anything quite as spacious as the 1-1 cabin on Singapore’s A380, and Etihad’s now-discontinued Apartment and Residence, Emirates’ latest suite is expected to roll out on the larger Boeing plane, and other carriers could add similar offerings down the line.

Before the pandemic, Etihad had also planned to add the upcoming Boeing 777X to its fleet, but it’s unclear whether the airline still plans to take delivery of Boeing’s largest passenger jet. Etihad may instead choose to convert its order to the smaller Dreamliner.

Featured photo by Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.