Etihad Airways and Airbus have marked a double celebration in Abu Dhabi with a special VIP and media showcasing of the national airline’s new A340-500 Diamond zone, and the visit of the revolutionary Airbus 380-800 aircraft.
The Etihad branded double-decker A380, flown to the UAE for heat testing, thrilled crowds across the country with a fly-past over the other Emirates, before heading for Abu Dhabi Corniche and city centre, and finally touching down at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
As well as viewing the A380, the world’s largest and most advanced passenger aircraft, a special delegation of VIPs and media hosted by Etihad’s chairman, also enjoyed experiencing the airline’s Diamond zone suite on board one of its new A340-500 aircraft.
“To see both of these aircraft side-by-side is really testament to the ambitions of Etihad and Airbus,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saif Al Nahyan, chairman of Etihad Airways. “The A380 is set to change the future of air travel. Both the A380 and A340-500 will provide Guests with premium comfort, and become the aircraft of choice for long-haul business and leisure travellers.”
Habib Fekih, President of Airbus Middle East, said: “In less than three years, Etihad has attained a reputation as one of the most respected and fastest growing airlines in the world. With our modern and very efficient aircraft family we are proud to be Etihad’s partner in its strong growth strategy and rapidly expanding network.”
The innovative Diamond zone suite sets new industry-benchmarks with a seat that rotates 180 degrees enabling Guests to dine, meet and converse with one another, in addition to the ‘air theatre’ with its 23-inch personal LCD video screen.
Guests flying on Etihad’s recently announced route to New York will travel on the new A340-500, which is rewriting long-haul travel with its capability of flying non-stop for more than sixteen and a half thousand kilometres.
The A340-500 Pearl zone seat also reclines into a fully flat business-bed, and Guests can enjoy a wealth of TV, radio and video games on the 15-inch personal LCD video screen.
“Etihad is continuing to build on its world-wide reputation for offering Guests the most advanced aircraft and premium in-flight hospitality. Whether travelling on the A340-500 or the A380, Guests will experience the very best a 21st airline can offer,” continued HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saif Al Nahyan.
The A340-500 forms part of an, US$8 billion, 24-strong order placed with Airbus for new aircraft which was signed in 2004. Within the Etihad order are four A380s which can accommodate up to 555 Guests in a standard three-zone configuration, and its fuel-efficient design results in 15-20 percent lower seat-mile costs.
After the visit to Abu Dhabi, the A380 will continue hot weather testing in Al Ain, which forms part of an overall European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification programme.
In the hot weather tests the aircraft systems including the engines, auxiliary power unit (APU), air conditioning, hydraulic and electrical systems. This is done on the ground and in flight at outside temperatures in excess of 38 degrees centigrade.
Earlier in 2005, the A380 completed extreme cold weather testing at minus 30 degrees centigrade in Iqualuit, Canada, as well as high altitude tests at 7,000 feet in Medellin, Columbia.
The A380 will also be one of the quietest large aircraft ever, complying with strict noise restrictions at some of the world’s busiest airports.
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