According to reports, Etihad Airways has sold four of its ten A380 superjumbos to Airbus in a deal that will see the Abu Dhabi-based carrier restore the remaining six double-deck jets to the skies in the near future.
Etihad had previously stated that the idea of permanently grounding its A380 aircraft was a distinct possibility.
Airbus has not responded to the reports, but outside of frequently publicized orders and deliveries, the airframer rarely comments on commercial arrangements and agreements.
Tony Douglas, Etihad’s CEO, has speculated on the A380’s future, claiming that the quad-engined superjumbo no longer meets the airline’s requirements.
Douglas has implemented a turnaround strategy at the loss-making carrier, which has resulted in a major reduction in the company’s size.
The A380 fleet of ten planes was grounded at the start of the epidemic in March 2020 and has been idle since then. Some of the planes are being kept in a secure storage facility in Spain. Officially, Etihad claims the planes are “indefinitely grounded.”
Douglas hailed the A380s as “a magnificent product” that is “no longer commercially viable” in April.
Douglas has panned Etihad’s diverse fleet, preferring to design the future long-haul fleet around Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350.
However, on extremely congested routes like London and Paris, the A380 might still be lucrative.
Etihad does plan to sell its fleet of A320 series aircraft to Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, a joint venture between Etihad and Sharjah-based Air Arabia, as part of its fleet simplification and business transformation.
After that, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will take up practically all of Etihad’s less profitable regional flights.
M Zulqarnain B, an aviation insider, alleges on Twitter that Etihad would transfer crew and the A320 fleet to Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.
Pilots and cabin personnel will have the option of accepting or rejecting new contacts.
A representative from Etihad Airways has been contacted for comment. The airline revealed last week that it has sold all of its subsidiary operations to a government-owned investment fund, including a ground handling and airline food company.
Etihad will be able to focus on its core airline business as a result of the sale.