The number “13” was a source of great pride and celebration today as Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways became the 13th carrier to date to receive an Airbus A380 jetliner – which is setting new operational benchmarks in reliable service around the globe.
This milestone handover – the 150th by Airbus overall, which also marks the third such initial delivery to an A380 customer in 2014 – is yet another achievement in the strong relationship between the United Arab Emirates’ flag carrier and Airbus.
Etihad Airways began operations in 2003, and in 2013 transported approximately 11.5 million passengers. Currently, the carrier flies to 108 existing or announced passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.
The Etihad Airways fleet incorporated 75 Airbus aircraft as of early December 2014 – consisting of 28 single-aisle A320 Family jetliners, 34 A330s and 11 A340s – which will be joined by an additional 115 Airbus-built aircraft on order. The total includes 62 A350 XWBs, making Etihad Airways the third-largest customer for this new-generation Airbus widebody jetliner in terms of order volume. In addition Etihad Airways was launch customer for the A330-200F freighter, further reinforcing its strong ties with Airbus.
With its milestone A380 aircraft now delivered, Etihad’s first A380 will make its debut on the popular London Heathrow route from Abu Dhabi International Airport, in December. By the end of 2015, Etihad Airways will have five A380s in operation, with plan to introduce the aircraft on the airlines’ Sydney and New York JFK routes.
This will expand the A380 network, which in early December included 94 routes to 44 destinations, flown by the aircraft currently operated by 12 customers.
Taking off or landing every four minutes on average around the globe, the A380 has become a true world traveller since its 2007 commercial service entry, with the combined fleet flying more than 75 million passengers. The global fleet has performed over 1.7 million total flight hours with an average daily utilisation exceeding 13 hours per aircraft.
These impressive figures have established the aircraft’s reputation as the “queen of the skies,” backed by the A380’s unique ability to capture traffic growth, offer superior levels of comfort to passengers in all classes of service and its efficient operating economics.