Etihad Expects An Acceleration In Global Airbus A380 Retirements

Etihad Airways’ CEO Tony Douglas has said that he expects an acceleration in the retirement of the global Airbus A380 fleet. The CEO made his comments on the first episode of the new Etihad podcast called Altitudes.

Etihad Airways, Airbus A380, Airbus A350
Etihad’s CEO says the jury is out on the A380s return. Photo: Getty Images

The Airbus A380 is a marvel of engineering. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, many A380s have been grounded, with a handful being forced into early retirement by airlines. While it is not currently flying the giant of the skies, Etihad is yet to make any firm decisions regarding the Airbus A380’s future. Meanwhile, neighbor and rival Emirates has already resumed Airbus A380 operations.

Etihad CEO’s comments

Yesterday Etihad released the first episode of its new Altitude podcast. Hosted by James Sanderson, the podcast saw Etihad CEO Tony Douglas grilled on everything from Tel Aviv flights to how many times he had been asked if Emirates was merging with Etihad. However, one topic that couldn’t be ignored was the fate of the airline’s ten Airbus A380s.

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Commenting on the aircraft, Douglas said,

“We’re heartbroken to see our 380s parked up. The question as to whether they’ll ever fly again, to be equally direct about it, I’d say the jury’s out. I think it’s heavily handicapped by two engines too many, and other aircraft can do the job far more efficiently, far more sustainably.”

Etihad Airways, Stored Aircraft, Maintenance
The A380 is hard to justify from a sustainability point of view due to its four engines. Photo: Etihad

Douglas went on to point out that with a brand as serious about sustainability as Etihad is, it is hard to justify a four-engined aircraft when the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is far more efficient. However, he did remark that retiring the A380 at this stage would break his heart.

Global A380 retirements

While Douglas was clear that the jury is out on the fate of his ten Airbus A380s, other aircraft have already had their fate sealed. Air France has already pulled the plug on its A380 fleet. While the aircraft was already earmarked for retirement in the coming years, they have now been retired immediately. Meanwhile, neighboring Lufthansa has withdrawn six of its 14 A380s. The airline said that the remaining eight were unlikely to return to service.

Douglas remarked,

“I think we’re probably going to see now an acceleration of the same with the global A380 fleet.”

Emirates, Airbus A380, Clark Philippines
Emirates is unlikely to retire its last A380 any time soon. Photo: Dubai Airports

While the jury may be out about his A380s, the type won’t disappear for some time yet. Etihad’s fellow UAE airline Emirates has already resumed A380 operations. Given the prevalence of the kind in its fleet, they are unlikely to retire the A380 any time soon. Indeed, Emirates is still expecting eight Airbus A380 deliveries, with the last airframe completed in the past week.

What do you think is the fate of the global Airbus A380 fleet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!