Etihad Airways will debut its new Boeing 787 on flights to Washington DC, Mumbai and Dusseldorf in Germany as it prepares to introduce both the Dreamliner and Airbus A380 at the end of this year.

The Gulf carrier will begin A380 flights on 27 December on the Abu Dhabi-London Heathrow route shortly after taking delivery of its first ultra-large aircraft in December.

The airline will follow this by deploying the aircraft on flights to Sydney and New York JFK as four more of the type enter service in 2015. Etihad has a total of 10 A380s on order and options on a further five.

“The first A380 will be used to provide additional seats on existing routes where there is a need for increased capacity, and in particular, high demand for first and business class travel,” says Etihad chief commercial officer Peter Baumgartner.

Deployment of the A380 strengthens the carrier’s product proposition on the evolving kangaroo route. “We believe the product will be truly unique on the kangaroo route,” says Etihad chief executive James Hogan. Asked about the possibility of deploying the type on Indian routes, Hogan adds: “At a point of time, if the numbers warrant it, we would like to introduce the A380 into India.”

Etihad’s first pair of 787s meanwhile will be deployed initially on flights to Dusseldorf in December, before Washington and Mumbai are added in January. The selection of the German city in part reflects the position of its partner Air Berlin in the city. “The Dusseldorf market is very strong in its own right,” says Hogan, but adds it is also home to some Air Berlin support service “We have chosen it to ensure the right support on the ground should there be any support issues.”

The Gulf carrier is taking a mix of two and three-class configured 787s – 71 in total – and Hogan says the 20 three-class configured from its 41 initial chunk give it the chance to add a first class product to key routes. “The batch of 787s gives us the chance to upgrade in some cities,” he says.

The airline takes its first 787s in the last quarter of this year and three more in 2015. All five aircraft will be configured with three classes.

Source: Cirium Dashboard