Middle Eastern carrier Etihad Airways has sold the exclusive apartment-style first-class suite for its initial Airbus A380 flight.

Chief executive James Hogan confirmed the sale as he defended the decision to include the single three-room suite – branded ‘Residence’ – as part of the A380’s interior.

While the cost of the fare is comparable to that of hiring a private jet, Hogan says the company believes there is “a segment” of customers who would prefer the option of taking the A380, particularly within the strong traffic flows such as routes to New York.

He was speaking during the roll-out of Etihad’s first example in the carrier’s new colour scheme.

Etihad was given “complete commercial freedom” by the United Arab Emirates government to revise the livery, Hogan says.

“[The designer] showed us five options. We picked the one we wanted,” he states.

Branding firm Landor Associates’ global creative officer, Peter Knapp, says that all the designs centred on a “core idea” of visually representing Abu Dhabi.

“We were playing with slightly larger patterns, playing with the colours,” he says, pointing out that the extent of the geometric design was one of the variables.

Knapp says that too much “creates distortion and looks unbalanced”. He describes the end result as a “respectful evolution” of the previous Etihad livery, which retains the carrier’s falcon logo in a “prestigious position”.

Etihad is to put its first A380 into service on the Abu Dhabi-London Heathrow route towards the end of this year.

Source: Cirium Dashboard