Etihad goes big on luxury travel
ETIHAD Airways will fit its A380s with what it says will be the industry's largest first-class suites to help it compete with Gulf rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways, as well as other top-end operators such as Singapore Airlines and British Airways.
"We've taken the concept of private jets and put it into the A380," Etihad chief executive James Hogan said on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, announcing that the planes will serve New York, London and Paris, together with Sydney and Melbourne - cities that already have extensive A380 links.
The Etihad planes will be configured in a three-class layout, with nine first-class "apartments" on the upper deck that Mr Hogan said will be 74 per cent bigger than the current arrangement, with a full-flat bed and separate reclining lounge-style seat.
Each A380 will also have an individually styled cabin branded "The Residence" and featuring a double bedroom, separate living area and a shower room, with a dedicated attendant trained at the Savoy Butler School, he said.
"We believe there'll be a strong market for The Residence and Apartment," the CEO said.
"It's compartmentalised and can be used by families and government delegations, so you can charter that part of the aircraft. In that regard, it's better than private jets."
The superjumbos will feature 70 so-called "studios" in business class, a concept that will also be introduced on Etihad's Boeing 787s, which will feature 28 studio seats, together with eight "first suites" arranged around a unique curved aisle, Mr Hogan said. The carrier is the No. 1 customer for the 787, a smaller wide-bodied plane than the A380, with 71 on order.
The A380s will also feature 417 seats in economy class, making 498 in total.
Etihad will become the 14th airline in the world to operate the A380 when its commences flights on Dec 27, with 10 of the double-deckers on order.