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Updated 03:00PT: Schedules now being updated and details have been added below.
Never, ever, write off the A380.
Etihad has been slimming down, cutting costs and becoming a boutique airline and to all intents and purposes, that appeared to mean that the A380s that it sent into storage when the pandemic hit were never coming back. At least not in Etihad livery.
The A380 was too big and too thirsty for the new slimmed down Etihad and so fans of the airline’s largest First Class suites and the airline’s onboard showers have been making their peace with the fact that their days were over. They were gone for good… Or so we were left to believe.
The rumors that Etihad would bring back at least some of its A380 grew strongest in late summer and now, after a period in which the airline hasn’t been saying much about its Whale Jets, we finally have news that the rumors were true. Four Etihad A380s will be returning to the skies in summer 2023.
Here’s the official confirmation that they’ll be returning and confirmation that they’ll first reappear on the Abu Dhabi – London route:
When this article was first written a few hours ago, Etihad’s schedules still didn’t show which flights the A380s would be taking over and when they would be back in the skies.
Now, however, a few updates have been processed and this is what we can see:
Saturday, 15 July 2023: The first Etihad A380 comes back into service as EY11/EY12 (the first flight of the day from both airports).
Tuesday, 1 August 2023: The second Etihad A380 appears on the Abu Dhabi – London route as EY19/20 (the second flight of the day from both airports).
The remaining two A380s that we have been promised don’t appear to have been added to the schedules yet so, at the time of the latest update that I’ve seen, this is what the flights look like as of 1 August:
EY11 AUH 02:05 – 06:45 LHR (Daily – A380)
EY19 AUH 08:30 – 13:05 LHR (Daily – A380)
EY25 AUH 10:45 – 15:10 LHR (Daily – 787-10)
EY25 AUH 14:20 – 18:45 LHR (Daily – 787-9)
EY12 LHR 09:30 – 19:40 AUH (Daily – A380)
EY20 LHR 14:50 – 00:55+1 day AUH (Daily – A380)
EY18 LHR 20:55 – 06:45 AUH+1 day (Daily – 787-9)
EY18 LHR 21:55 – 07:45 AUH+1 day (Daily – 787-10)
At the moment (things may change), the A380s are scheduled to operate this route through 28 October 2023.
Now that the A380s are appearing in the schedules we can see (for sure) that the much-loved First Class cabin still remains in place…
… and we can see that the Residence remains in place as well even thought it doesn’t (yet) appear as a bookable option on the Etihad website*. That’s very good news.
Clearly, there are more updates on the way so I’ll continue to refresh this article when I see them appearing, but for now, I’m going to go back to planning how and when I’ll get to fly the amazing Etihad A380 First Class cabin again.
*Etihad has now put out a press release in which (amongst other things) it confirms that the Residence will be a bookable option.