Etihad says it will concentrate on the “efficient rationalization” of its fleet after confirming it has reduced the number of widebody aircraft it plans to take from Boeing and Airbus.
The Abu Dhabi-based carrier has been undergoing a comprehensive strategic review after plunging deeply into the red.
The aviation group last June posted another massive loss for its 2017 financial year of $US1.52 billion as it faced significant fuel cost increases, the entry into administration of equity partners Alitalia and airberlin and investment in its restructuring program. This came after a $US1.86 billion loss in fiscal 2016.
It said the aircraft agreements would see it take delivery of five Airbus A350-1000, half the number it ordered in 2013, and six Boeing 777-9s compared to the original order of 17 777-9s and eight 777-8s.
Not mentioned in its statement were the 40 A350-900s that were part of the 2013 order, although The Gulf carrier said it will still take all 26 Airbus A321neos.
The failure to mention the A350-900s generated headlines that the order had been canceled but the airline’s statement suggested this was still under consideration.
“The balance of the remaining orders will be defined at a later time through rescheduling, restructuring or reduction,” it said.
“Etihad will also continue to take delivery of Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
“This will enable the airline to further progress its transformation and adjust to its new operating model.”
Etihad said each of the manufacturers had agreed not to disclose details of the agreements.
“By restructuring a large portion of its previous orders, Etihad can now concentrate on the phased introduction of new aircraft types, enabling an efficient rationalization of its fleet, and building a network that connects Abu Dhabi to the world,” it said.
The major restructure has also seen Etihad rationalize routes, including the axing of services to Perth, Australia, and Edinburgh, Scotland.
It announced recently it would reduce one of its two daily services to Sydney from a flagship Airbus A380 to a Boeing 777.
“Etihad Airways is implementing changes to its A380 network and as a result one of the two daily A380 services from Sydney to Abu Dhabi (EY451/450) will operate on a three-class Boeing 777-300ER from July 1, 2019,’’ a spokesman said about the Sydney change.
“Etihad remains fully committed to Australia, continuing to offer double daily services to Sydney with the A380 and Boeing 777-300ER, double daily Melbourne with the 787-9, as well as a daily 787-9 service to Brisbane.”
Dubai-based rival Emirates has also been restructuring its aircraft orders, forcing Airbus to scrap A380 production from 2021 as it swapped all but 14 of its superjumbo orders to twin-engine planes.