Start-up Etihad Airways showed its colours when it placed a $7 billion order at the show yesterday for 24 Airbus widebody aircraft, with 12 options, including four ultra-large A380s.

The first of the aircraft will be delivered to the Abu Dhabi-based airline in 2007.

The order is for four ultra-long range A340-500s, four A340-600s and 12 A330-200s, as well as the A380s. The options cover all the ordered types, including A380s.

Yesterday saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the airline and Airbus, with the order following in September.

Deliveries of the A330-200s and A340-500s begin in 2006 with first deliveries of the other types beginning in the following year.


The A340-500s and the -600s will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 500s. Engines for the other types have yet to be selected.

"This is a truly significant day in Etihad's young life to date," said Dr Sheikh Ahmed bin Saif Al Nahyan, Etihad chairman, speaking at the signing ceremony. "I cannot recall a time in airline history when a start-up operation, barely eight months old, has had the confidence, resource and ambition to place orders for three dozen new widebodied aircraft with a combined value of over $7 billion.

"If you think the last eight months have been busy for us, this is nothing compared to what the coming months and years have in store. Just watch this space - it's going to be an exciting journey."

Etihad currently operates a fleet of six aircraft.



Source: Flight Daily News