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Etihad will bring back its ultra-luxurious Airbus A380

Dec. 09, 2022
4 min read
etihad plane
Etihad will bring back its ultra-luxurious Airbus A380
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Luxury lovers, rejoice!

Etihad Airways will bring its Airbus A380 back into service, the airline said on Friday.

The airline will pull four of the palatial double-deckers from storage and operate them between Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) and Heathrow Airport (LHR) starting next summer, the airline said. The airline did not provide an exact date or month.

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Etihad grounded its fleet of 10 A380s in March 2020 as the spread of COVID-19 effectively put a freeze on global travel. Although airlines continued to fly bare-bones schedules and cargo flights, the A380 — with four engines and seating for upward of 500 passengers in some configurations — was too inefficient and expensive to operate.

The following year, then-CEO Tony Douglas confirmed that the airline planned to keep the A380s grounded "indefinitely," saying during the World Aviation Festival in April that "they are no longer commercially sustainable. So we have taken the difficult decision to park those machines up indefinitely."

At the time, Etihad planned to reorient its fleet around the smaller but more nimble and efficient Boeing 787 and Airbus A350-1000, FlightGlobal reported.

Times change, though.

Travel demand has surged globally since mid-2021 as vaccinations rolled out and countries began removing travel restrictions. Airlines struggled to add enough capacity to keep up.

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"We have decided the time is right to return some of our A380s into the fleet to satisfy the demand which has made them financially viable once more," current CEO Antonoaldo Neves said in a statement. "We look forward to welcoming our guests again on board this remarkable aircraft."

By adding the A380 to the London route, the airline says it will be able to free up capacity for additional frequencies on other routes, along with new destinations.

Etihad will also add five Airbus A320 narrow-body jets back into service to support the A380s. Those aircraft would be used for more regional flights from the airline's Abu Dhabi hub, allowing for more connecting capacity to accommodate all of the A380 passengers.

DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY

Etihad's A380s feature some of the most storied and luxurious products in the sky, making its return an exciting moment for some travelers.

The aircraft are configured with nine first class "Apartments," 70 business class "Studios" and 405 economy seats, including 80 with extra legroom.

Etihad also features a unique product on the A380 known as "The Residence." Essentially a three-room suite at the front of the upper deck, the Residence has a living room, a separate bedroom and a private bathroom with a shower. The living room alone is about the size of a standard first class "Apartment" seat.

DAVID SLOTNICK/THE POINTS GUY

The Residence, which often costs upward of $20,000 for a one-way flight — although award flights have been available in the past — also features amenities like private butler service, customized menus, and exclusive airport lounges and access.

Etihad, meanwhile, is not the first airline to reverse course on a grounded A380 fleet.

Lufthansa said in October that it would return the parked A380 to service by summer 2023. Three of its eight A380s will operate high-demand routes out of its Munich hub starting in June, with additional planes reentering service later in the summer. Lufthansa sold six additional A380s during the grounding.

In a statement, Lufthansa cited "the steep rise in customer demand and the delayed delivery of ordered aircraft."

Featured image by NICOLAS ECONOMOU/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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    670-850
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Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees