Etihad in talks over major orders to cover long-term growth

Abu Dhabi
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Etihad Airways is negotiating wide-ranging orders with Airbus and Boeing to cover its fleet growth beyond the end of this decade.

The deal is likely to be split between the two manufacturers and include single-aisle and widebody types.

“We’re working through the evaluation process at the moment for a fleet deal from 2020 out to 2040,” says Etihad chief executive James Hogan. “We’re still in negotiation, and probably expect the order to be split between Airbus and Boeing.”

Etihad signed its last major orders in 2008 at the Farnborough air show, concluding deals with Airbus and Boeing for 100 firm orders (55 Airbuses and 45 Boeings) along with a further 105 options. Some of those aircraft have been delivered but a significant number remain on backlog, including orders for 10 A380s and the two new-generation widebody types: the A350 and 787-9. Etihad’s A380 and Dreamliner deliveries are due to begin at the end of next year.

“Like last time, we’re doing it as an Abu Dhabi transaction, so there is Mubadala Aerospace and there is Etihad Airways, and we’re looking at where there can be benefit to both companies,” Hogan says. “[Talks are] a pretty good way down the road.”

Hogan confirms that the re-engined narrowbodies – the A320neo and 737 Max – are included in the evaluation as well as the 787-10 and 777X family. Although he declines to disclose how big the order will be, it is likely be sizable as it could include not just the Etihad’s own requirements but also the needs of some of its partner airlines.

“We’ve currently got 80 aircraft, and between now and 2020 there’s another 70-80 aircraft coming,” says Hogan. “The 2020 deal takes into account the retirement programme [of existing aircraft].”

Hogan says that while Etihad has objectives for the age it aims to replace aircraft, it does not disclose that information publicly.