Etihad Airways is unlikely to welcome the Airbus A380 back to its fleet in the wake of the Covid-19 shutdown, chief executive Tony Douglas has confirmed.
In an interview with the National, the aviation chief said the largest aircraft in the world was no longer profitable to operate.
“We have now taken the strategic decision to park the A380s, I am sure it is very likely that we will not see them operating with Etihad again,” Douglas explained.
The Etihad decision also means the end of the Residence, the ultra-exclusive private cabin offered on the A380.
Designed for up to two guests, the luxury three-room apartment features an en-suite shower room, private bedroom and separate living area.
A VIP travel concierge and dedicated team are also on hand to take care of everything for travellers, from the chauffeur-driven limousine to a private airport lounge.
Before the pandemic, the service was offered on trips from Abu Dhabi to London, New York, Sydney, Paris and Seoul.
Etihad, unlike fellow UAE-based airline Emirates, did not have a large fleet of A380s and only operated ten prior to the pandemic.
The strategy was similar to Middle Eastern rival Qatar Airways, which is also downsizing its A380 fleet as it charts a post-pandemic recovery.
Qatar Airways has already retired half of its formerly ten-aircraft-strong A380 fleet, primarily used on routes to popular European and Asian-Pacific cities.
Both Qatar Airways and Etihad have invested more in twin-engine aircraft like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing 777X and Airbus A350 XWB.
British Airways has also sent its A380 fleet into storage to ride out the pandemic.
Portuguese charter airline Hi Fly began flying A380 cargo flights during the pandemic but ultimately parted with the aircraft in 2020 at the end of its lease.
The Airbus A380 entered passenger service at a time when airlines were starting to look for smaller aircraft and the pandemic only accelerated its increasingly short-lived tenure.
All Nippon Airways was the last new customer to take delivery of a new A380 in 2019, just 14 years following the first test flight in 2005.
Emirates will likely be the last carrier to fly the A380 as the world’s largest operator of the model.
Airbus is gearing up for the final delivery, and has already trucked the final fuselage to its Toulouse production facility.