As it parks about 80% of its fleet amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, Etihad Airways has doubled down on aircraft and cabin maintenance work. 

In a video released on 10 April, the Abu Dhabi-based carrier states it has to date replaced more than 10,000 seat and backrest covers in its cabins. 

Etihad vice president for airframe services Haytham Nasir adds that the carrier is working closely with its fleet management team to see if maintenance checks on some aircraft can be brought forward. 

“We are taking every opportunity during this time, including product improvement. We do this maintenance to the best standard…[the] best quality,” he adds. 

Cirium fleets data indicates that the carrier has 12 passenger aircraft in operation, with another six Boeing 777 freighters operating. Etihad has parked 114 aircraft. 

Etihad also announced that it is expanding its network of passenger freighter routes, adding five routes to its existing network of 10 points. 

The carrier will be using the bellyhold capacity on its Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft to fly to Melbourne, Chennai, Kerala, Karachi, as well as Amsterdam. 

This is over and on top of existing passenger freighter flights mounted to points such as Seoul, Singapore, Jakarta, Bangalore and Riyadh.  

“The new routes will further ensure continuity of fresh imports to the UAE including meat, fish and seafood, fruits, and vegetables, in addition to pharmaceuticals and medical supplies,” Etihad states. 

Etihad suspended all passenger services on 25 March, in line with travel restrictions imposed by the UAE government to minimise the spread of the coronavirus. It has since been operating a series of repatriation flights and bellyhold cargo flights. 

Both Etihad and compatriot Emirates have in early April, announced plans to resume a number of flights in its network. 

Emirates announced on 2 April that it was permitted to operated a limited schedule to five points in Europe, carrying only outbound passengers from the UAE. The carrier has parked its entire fleet of 115 Airbus A380s amid the outbreak, and more than 100 777-300ERs, operating only 39 aircraft, including 11 freighters. 

Meanwhile, fellow Middle Eastern giant Qatar Airways announced on 8 April that it was beefing up freight capacity to cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Paris, Amsterdam, Muscat, Kuwait, Delhi, Beijing and Melbourne.