Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airlines has said it plans to take delivery of 20 fewer Boeing 787 Dreamliners than it had originally planned in an attempt to reduce costs.
While speaking at the Dubai Airshow yesterday, Bloomberg is reporting Etihad’s Chief Executive Officer Tony Douglas as saying that the Middle East carrier will have 51 787 Dreamliners in service by 2023 and that the aircraft will comprise 50% of Etihad’s fleet at that time.
The government-owned airline had already revised its order with the Seattle plane maker for 25 Boeing 777Xs down to just six aircraft. Just prior to the reduction in Boeing 777X aircraft, the Gulf airline reduced an order with Airbus for 42 A350s down to 20.
Back in February, Etihad said that it would like to slow down the arrival of the Boeing 787s but has now decided to cancel a part of the original order. All these latest cuts come at a time when Douglas has been tasked with rethinking the airline’s strategy to become a major intercontinental airline.
Etihad came to the party too late
Having seen the success Emirates was having with their hub and spoke operation out of Dubai, the UAE’s richest Emirate Abu Dhabi thought they could replicate it with their own hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH). What the new kid on the block didn’t realise was that they would be going up against the already established Emirates and Qatar Airways.
Thinking that they could drive traffic to their Abu Dhabi hub, Etihad decided to buy stakes in struggling airlines in the hope of turning them around. At the same time, these small airlines would feed Etihad with passengers.
Etihad has lost millions investing in other airlines
Well we all know how that worked out with Air Berlin, Niki and Jet Airways no longer in existence. Etihad also owns a 49% stake in Alitalia, an airline that is losing money every day and needs new backing to stay in business.
All of these misadventures have cost Etihad millions of dollars. Had they not been state-owned would have almost certainly bankrupted them too. Since 2016 Etihad has lost $4.8 billion and while it still wants to keep a global footprint has given up on the idea of chasing passengers.
Etihad is now focused on serving Abu Dhabi
Now, with a focus firmly fixed on serving just Abu Dhabi, Etihad has given Douglas the task of turning things around. During the launch of a new eco partnership with Boeing and the unveiling of the Etihad Greenliner 787, Douglas talked about his plans for the airline and how he hopes to make them profitable.
“We’ve still got a long way to go. We’re slightly ahead of where we planned to be,” says Douglas. “If we stay focused, if we do the right things like this [eco partnership] for the right reasons, we’ll all see a very strong Etihad in the future.”