United Arab Emirates (UAE) national carrier, Etihad Airways is to utilise its Airbus A380 on its flights between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne from the middle of next year. The confirmation on the deployment of the SuperJumbo is the latest in a number of announcements over recent weeks from the big three Gulf hub carriers which will see capacity and connectivity in and out of Australia to significantly rise in 2016.
The A380 will operate flights EY460/461, one of the airline’s twice daily Abu Dhabi - Melbourne services from June 1, 2016, substituting one of the three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft it currently deploys on the route. The move will increase the total number of two-way seats on the Melbourne-Abu Dhabi route by 26 per cent to more than 11,500 seats per week.
Alongside the additional capacity, the aircraft will bring a new premium operation to the Melbourne market through The Residence by Etihad offering, the airline’s luxurious private three-room First Class suite in the sky.
“From June next year, guests on our Abu Dhabi-Melbourne A380 flights will discover what travellers the world over are talking about – the superior level of luxury, comfort, service, and inflight technology that is redefining luxury air travel and transforming the flying experience,” said James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Airways.
“What’s more, the A380 service from Melbourne will connect seamlessly in Abu Dhabi to the A380 to London, offering our London-bound guests the convenience and class-leading comfort of an all-A380 service all the way,” he added.
Melbourne has developed as an important point on the global network of Etihad and its Abu Dhabi to Melbourne services continue to generate very high seat load factors on a year round basis. According to the carrier, after just three months of operations, demand for its second daily service is already exceeding expectations.
“Deploying the 496-seat A380 to Melbourne will enable us to accelerate our growth in the Victorian market by providing additional capacity, particularly in business class, where demand for seats continually outstrips supply,” aid Hogan.
Etihad commenced services to Melbourne in March 2009 and added the second daily flight on the route in August this year. It is the only carrier to offer multiple daily non-stop flights between Melbourne and the Middle East - rivals Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways offer single daily rotations to Dubai and Doha, respectively, while Qantas has a daily link to Dubai with onward service to London.