Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has selected Airbus’ wide-body long-range aircraft and the new generation double-deck Airbus A380 for its future growth. The Abu Dhabi based full-service airline has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to purchase 24 Airbus aircraft, including four of the revolutionary double-decked A380s, four ultra-long range A340-500s, four A340-600s and twelve A330-200s, the most efficient wide-body twin. In addition the airline has also taken options to purchase 12 additional aircraft, the types of which will be defined in due course. The total value of the agreement is in excess of $7 billion.
Deliveries to Etihad are to begin in 2006 for the A330-200s and A340-500s, and in 2007 for the A340-600s and A380s. The A340-500s and -600s will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 500s - the A330 and A380 engines have yet to be announced.
Etihad will use the aircraft to further develop its route network within the Middle East and to Europe, Asia, India and to North America. Etihad currently operates a fleet of six aircraft, including four of the market leading A330-200s and an Airbus A340-300.
Dr Ahmed Bin Saif al Nahyan, chairman of Etihad Airways said, “Today is a truly significant day in Etihad’s young existence. I cannot recall a time in airline history when a start-up operation, barely 8 months old, has had the confidence, resources and ambition to place orders for up 36 new wide bodied aircraft with a combined value of more than $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.”
“Etihad’s commitment gives me a great sense of pride. In less than one year, Etihad has attained an enviable reputation as of the most respected airlines in the region. With our modern and very efficient aircraft we are proud to become Etihad’s partner for their rapidly expanding network,” said No‘l Forgeard, Airbus’ President and Chief Executive Officer.
The Airbus A380 is the only modern aircraft design in the valuable 400-plus seat market, in which it has already established strong market leadership. Passengers will enjoy an outstanding level of comfort with more space on every seat, while airlines benefit from significant lower operating and maintenance costs.
Airbus A330/A340 aircraft form the most flexible and efficient long-range wide-body- family available on the market. They are equipped and manufactured with state-of-the-art technology, both in terms of materials and systems.
With the A330/A340 and A380 sharing the same basic cockpit, Etihad is in addition well placed to benefit from savings in training for pilots, maintenance engineers and cabin crew.
This agreement marks the next step in Etihad’s goal of becoming one of the leading airlines not only in our region, but in the world. Etihad has commissioned one of the world’s leading aircraft interior designers to produce a cabin definition which matches the airline’s intention to be both different and better.
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