Etihad CEO: Never Say Never On Airbus A380 Return

While Etihad’s CEO had made it pretty clear in the past that he doesn’t see the return of the Airbus A380, it hasn’t been entirely ruled out. Speaking exclusively to Simple Flying today, the airline’s CEO revealed there is an incredibly slim chance that the aircraft could return to the Abu Dhabi-based airline’s fleet if the stars align.

Etihad Airways, Airbus A380, Return
There remains a slim chance that Etihad’s Airbus A380s will return to the skies. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

The pandemic has had differing impacts on the world’s aircraft fleets. While smaller and efficient planes such as the Airbus A220 have flourished, the same can’t be said for the four-engined giants. Many have bid farewell to the A380, but there is hope for the giant yet.

Never say never

While speaking exclusively to Simple Flying today, Etihad Airways CEO, Tony Douglas, revealed that he hasn’t fully closed the door on the Airbus A380’s return. Commenting on the type’s return, he said,

“You never say never in life on just about anything”

Expanding on his comments, Douglas said,

“If the big thick routes come back post-pandemic, if the volume, i.e. the load factors get back to high utilization, but most importantly… the yield on the ticket gets back, it can be economically viable to get [the A380s] back into the air. Nothing would give us greater satisfaction.”

Etihad, Teruel, Airbus A380
Etihad was clear the aircraft will only return if economically viable. Photo: Etihad

“Not a registered charity”

Douglas made it clear that Etihad isn’t an Airbus A380 refuge where the planes can spend the rest of their days and that the jet would only return if it were economically viable, saying,

“Like all other airlines, we’re not a registered charity. We have to be very commercial in all of the undertakings and the decisions that we make.”

As such, for the time being, the airline is focusing on its smaller widebody jets, such as the Boeing 787, where it is easier to make a profit due to higher efficiency and thus lower fuel usage.

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The Etihad Airbus A380 fleet

Based in Abu Dhabi, Etihad Airways has a fleet of ten Airbus A380 aircraft. While the aircraft spent much of the early pandemic in storage at the airline’s home, they have since moved to Europe, with the entire fleet spread across two Tarmac Aerosave facilities in France and Spain.

RegistrationMSNLocationAge (years)Flight HoursFlight Cycles
A6-APA166Lourdes/Tarbes (LDE)7.2126,663.002,982
A6-APB170Lourdes/Tarbes (LDE)6.9625,523.002,945
A6-APC176Lourdes/Tarbes (LDE)6.7624,907.002,709
A6-APD180Teruel (TEV)6.5923,983.002,554
A6-APE191Teruel (TEV)6.2923,099.002,494
A6-APF195Teruel (TEV)5.8921,221.002,290
A6-APG198Teruel (TEV)5.8120,351.002,203
A6-APH199Teruel (TEV)5.719,981.002,174
A6-API233Lourdes/Tarbes (LDE)4.8515,658.001,698
A6-APJ237Teruel (TEV)4.6614,917.001,586

Table data: ch-aviation.com

According to data from ch-aviation.com, the airline’s oldest Airbus A380 is A6-APA, with an age of 7.21 years. This aircraft has so far clocked 26,663 flight hours across 2,982 flight cycles and has a current market value of $50.71 million.

Etihad Airways, Airbus A380, Return
Etihad’s entire A380 fleet is in storage across two locations in Europe. Photo: Getty Images

By contrast, the airline’s youngest A380 is A6-API, with an age of 4.85 years. The aircraft has a current market value of $66.27 million, having flown 15,658 hours across 1,698 flight cycles.

Do you think we’ll see Etihad’s Airbus A380s return to the skies? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!

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