One of the most luxurious passenger aircraft ever conceived has been officially unveiled by its new owner, Etihad Airways - the national airline of the United Arab Emirates.
A special reveal day was organised in Abu Dhabi on Monday, 24 July to mark the entry into service of the company's brand new Airbus A340-500, with guests that included members of the UAE's royal family, government ministers and some of Etihad's 2,500-strong workforce.
All were treated to a special preview of the aircraft's luxurious three-class cabin, which is equipped to carry 240 passengers and boasts a number of world-first features and facilities.
In addition to the cabin's secluded lounge area with sofa and coffee table, all 12 seats in the first class "Diamond" zone can be rotated 180 degrees to enable guests to hold meetings and dine together. Each seat has a built-in massage facility plus a multi-position headrest, and quickly converts into a spacious, two-metre long, horizontal bed. It also has its own 58 cm LCD video screen - the largest of any aircraft in the world - providing a wide range of in-flight entertainment options.
Additional features include an individual drinks cabinet, an integrated personal mirror, a fold-and-swivel meal table, and a privacy screen for passengers to create their own private compartment.
Each business or "Pearl" zone passenger also has his or her own in-flight entertainment system and video screen, plus a fully reclining seat. Mood lighting throughout all three zones - Diamond, Pearl and Coral - adjusts softly to the time of day to ease jetlag and enable passengers to arrive feeling rested and refreshed.
Powered by Rolls Royce Trent 500s, the new A340-500 will operate on Etihad's major long-haul routes to Paris, London Heathrow and - starting in October - New York. It is the second A340-500 to be delivered to Etihad in recent weeks, in addition to five A330-200s earlier this year. All are part of a $7 billion (â‚¬5.54 billion) order placed by the company in 2004 for a total of 24 aircraft, which includes 12 A330s, four A380s and eight A340s. The next delivery, of a third A340-500, is scheduled for this autumn.
Expressing his delight at this latest addition to Etihad's fleet, company Chairman HH Dr. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saif Al Nahyan said: "Every traveller in every seat in every cabin onboard the A340-500 will discover new levels of comfort when traveling with Etihad. We are making our biggest investment yet in customer service to make them feel as comfortable in the air as they do at home."
Airbus' Middle East sales vice president Abdellah Sbai commented: "Etihad Airways is now recognized as a world-class airline whose cabin comfort is cited as a reference. We have gone the extra mile to satisfy their request for extra comfort and special cabin features."