Etihad Won’t Permanently Ground Its A380 Fleet

According to the Vice President of Etihad, the airline will not get rid of its A380s any time soon. In an interview published on August 15th, Vincent Frascogna said that the aircraft would fill demand when it arises in vital markets that are currently limited.

Etihad A380 in flight
Etihad’s A380s will remain in the fleet. Photo: Getty Images

A380 to stay with the Etihad fleet

Around the world, many have watched in sadness as airlines bid farewell to the giant Airbus A380. Cited as being too expensive to run for the number of seats in comparison to demand as well as fuel cost, for lots of carriers, it makes sense to retire the model. Many airlines are set to get smaller, and the jumbo A380 does not suit that vision.

However, for Etihad, that is not the case. Earlier this week, the Vice President spoke with Enrique Perrella of Airways Magazine and told the publication that he was not aware of any plans to retire the aircraft. VP Vincent Frascogna did say there would be changes but that the 10 Airbus A380 would remain in the Etihad fleet for the foreseeable future.

B787-9 Boeing
The 787-9 Dreamliner replaces the A380 on routes to New York. Photo: Getty Images

That said, the A380 will no longer operate on routes from the Middle East to New York. Since its grounding back in March, the A380 was replaced by Boeing 777-300ER. Etihad has since shared that it is now using the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on this route as it will for all North American routes.

These currently include:

  • Chicago;
  • Los Angeles;
  • Toronto; and
  • Washington.

What is the plan for the A380?

In his interview with Airways Magazine, Mr. Frascogna said,

“…we still have a commitment to operate the ten A380s that we have in our fleet…But it all depends on when is the right time to bring them back into the network based on borders reopening and demand coming back.” 

A380 with passengers boarding
When demand returns, so too will the A380. Photo: Getty Images

It appears that Etihad does not have any concrete use for its A380s. However, it anticipates that changing in the future. With the reopening of critical routes that serve the UAE, it won’t be long before even more travel demand returns.

An essential step in the right direction is an agreement between India and the UAE. After five months, Indian citizens with a valid visa will be allowed to travel to the United Arab Emirates for the first time since the pandemic. The UAE is a popular market for Indian travelers, with many working in the country. Before the pandemic, 3.3 million Indians were forecast to travel to the UAE by 2023, representing a 6% increase in current trends.

It is now unlikely that this demand will grow by such a significant percentage. However, it is still a valuable market. Could India be where Etihad uses its A380s?

Etihad A380 at gate
Which market will suit the A380 best? Photo: Getty Images

A380s in the American market

Another option for the aircraft could be within the US market. Though demand in the region is low right now, Vincent Frascogna shared that by the first three months of 2021, that demand could be returning.

The airline does not expect to cut routes in this region as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, there will be more demand for those services in the future.

That said, the airline is also waiting on the opportunity to use the A350s that it currently has on order. According to, it is awaiting the delivery of five A350-1000. With a more extended range, could these aircraft be used first to soak up demand in the American market in the future?

What do you think? Have your say in the comments.