Etihad Airways has launched its first Airbus A380 aircraft from London Heathrow to its Abu Dhabi hub incorporating the world’s most exclusive commercial airline seat, costing $20,000.
Flight EY12 departed with a full complement of 498 passengers, with two in the Residence, nine in First, 70 in Business and 417 in Economy, on schedule.
The double decker superjumbo aircraft will operate daily on the London-Abu Dhabi route and by August 2015 on all its three services.
The Etihad Airways A380 is set to change the landscape of commercial aviation with the introduction of its new cabins – including the ultra-luxurious Residence by Etihad.
The Residence by Etihad features a living room, separate en-suite shower room, and bedroom, and as another first in the airline industry, a dedicated Butler.
With facilities normally only associated with travel on private jets, the three-room apartment costs a cool $20,000 (£14,000) one way between London and Abu Dhabi, making it the world’s most in commercial aviation.
But that is still barely a 10th of the cost of chartering a private jet for the trip.
Measuring 125 square feet in total, it is located on the forward upper deck of the A380 and can accommodate either one person or two people travelling together.
Miami-based businessman and aviation enthusiast, Gino Bertuccio, became the first person to experience the private multi-room cabin on the inbound flight from Abu Dhabi.
And there to support him on the inaugural flight was British national, Georgina Henderson, one of the Etihad Airways Butlers who received specialist training at the Savoy Butler Academy in London prior to the launch of the A380.
Clive Wratten, UK country manager for Etihad Airways, said: “London is one of the world’s most competitive aviation markets and it’s significant that we are deploying our first A380 from our capital city.
“We’re immensely proud of all the cabins on board the A380, which take facilities in each class of travel to a new level.
“The Residence by Etihad brings the experience of flying on a private jet into commercial aviation. We’re delivering this unique experience at a fraction of the price of hiring a private aircraft.
“Mr Bertuccio has become the first of an elite group of Etihad Airways guests who will enjoy the world’s most luxurious and exclusive hospitality and service experience in the air.”
A dedicated VIP Concierge team ensured all aspects of Bertuccio’s experience, including luxury limousine transfers, check-in, and custom menu planning, were handled with the utmost personal attention, dedication and care.
Bertuccio who runs Ligi Import Corp, has been passionate about flying since a young age.
He flew on his first inaugural 25 years ago and has since travelled on 22 inaugural and final flights in premium class cabins.
He is an avid collector of airline memorabilia with nearly 2,000 model airplanes, as well as albums filled with boarding passes, certificates and photos from past flights.
Bertuccio said: “There were many firsts on this inaugural flight – new amenities, services and other innovations to try.
“Flying in the Residence by Etihad was a truly unique adventure, the top of luxury.
“My only wish was that the flight was longer, I didn’t want to get off.
“It was an amazing experience, a lifetime experience.
“It looks like a cruise line cabin.”
The addition of the Airbus A380 underlines Etihad Airways’ strong growth performance with the airline set to comfortably pass its total of 11.5 million passengers carried in 2013.
With the addition of an A380 on the Abu Dhabi–Sydney route, in June 2015, guests will be able to enjoy the luxury of Etihad Airways’ A380 from the UK to Australia.