The FINANCIAL -- Etihad Airways much-anticipated A380 arrives in Sydney tonight, beginning an exciting new era of luxury travel on the Sydney-Abu Dhabi and Sydney-London routes.
The A380 features The Residence by EtihadTM, the airline’s luxurious private three-room suite in the sky, a first in commercial aviation, as well as groundbreaking innovations in all cabins, according to Etihad Airways.
The inaugural Abu Dhabi-Sydney A380 flight – EY454 – departed Abu Dhabi International Airport at 10pm last night and is scheduled to touch down at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport at 5.55pm this evening. The aircraft, in the airline’s new ‘Facets of Abu Dhabi’ livery, will be welcomed to Sydney by a traditional water cannon salute. The return Sydney-Abu Dhabi flight – EY455 – will depart Sydney at 9.25pm tonight.
The A380 will now operate one of the airline’s two daily services between Sydney and Abu Dhabi. The airline’s additional four weekly Airbus A340-600 flights will be upgraded to a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Today marks another major milestone in the short history of Etihad Airways. Guests on the A380 between Sydney and Abu Dhabi will enjoy a superior level of luxury, comfort, service, and inflight technology that will totally transform their flying experience.
“Furthermore, the A380 out of Sydney connects seamlessly at the Abu Dhabi hub to the A380 to London, offering our London-bound guests the comfort and convenience of an all-A380 service all the way.”
The new daily A380 service, together with an upgrade to a B777-300ER from the current A340-600 for the airline’s other four weekly flights, will increase the total number of two-way seats on the route by 30 per cent to 9,568 seats per week.
James Hogan said: “In 2014, we achieved an 88 per cent seat load factor on our Sydney route. The A380 will provide us with much-needed additional capacity, particularly in business class, where we consistently enjoy high levels of demand for our services.
“This capacity increase is particularly good news for our premium guests and for high-end leisure and business tourism at both ends of the Sydney-London route.”
Sydney Airport Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Kerrie Mather, said: “Sydney Airport is thrilled to be the first and only airport in Australia and one of only two destinations in the world to welcome Etihad’s new flagship A380 service.
“The upgrade will bolster Sydney Airport’s status as the leading airport globally for next-generation aircraft and boost tourism to Sydney and NSW by increasing seat capacity.”
Etihad Airways’ new A380 cabins offer an unprecedented level of luxury, space and privacy in the most highly customised commercial cabin interior ever.
The Residence by Etihad™, the world’s only private three-room cabin on a commercial aircraft, features a living room, separate ensuite shower room, double bedroom, and a dedicated Savoy-trained Butler. It features a large 32” LCD monitor in the living room and a separate 24” version in bedroom. Measuring 125 square feet in total, The Residence by Etihad™ is located on the forward upper deck of the A380 and is available for single or double occupancy.
The nine First Apartments in First Class are private living spaces featuring a reclining lounge chair and an ottoman, upholstered in Poltrona Frau leather, which opens up to become a separate 80.5 inch long fully flat bed. Each First Apartment offers a 74 per cent increase in space over the airline’s current award-winning First Class Suites, a 24” LCD TV monitor and personal vanity unit. A fully equipped shower room is available for the exclusive use of First Class guests.
Seventy Business Studios are located on the upper deck of the A380, all offering direct aisle access, a fully flat bed of up to 80.5 inches long, and an increase of 20 per cent in personal space. Upholstered in Poltrona Frau leather, the Business Studio is equipped with an in-seat massage and a pneumatic cushion control system.
The Lobby, a luxurious lounge located between the First Class and Business Class cabins, features two comfortable leather sofas and a staffed bar serving a selection of snacks and refreshments.
The main deck features 417 Economy Smart Seats, which provide enhanced comfort with a unique ‘fixed wing’ headrest on each seat, adjustable lumbar support, a seat width of approximately 19 inches, and an 11.1” personal TV monitor.
Etihad Airways has introduced the latest Panasonic eX3 entertainment system on its A380 fleet, providing more than 750 hours of on-demand entertainment, improved gaming, and high definition screens across all cabins. The A380 has full mobile and Wi-Fi service, with USB and power points at every seat.
Etihad Airways’ partner airline, Virgin Australia, will codeshare on the new A380 services.
Within Australia and to New Zealand, Etihad Airways codeshares on Virgin Australia flights from Sydney to Adelaide, Albury, Auckland, Ayers Rock (Uluru), Ballina, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Christchurch, Coffs Harbour, Darwin, Gold Coast, Hamilton Island, Hervey Bay, Hobart, Launceston, Mackay, Melbourne, Perth, Port Macquarie, Queenstown, Sunshine Coast, Tamworth and Townsville.