United Arab Emirates (UAE) national carrier Etihad Airways is to introduce its Airbus A380 on a second route into Europe this summer. The Superjumbo will be allocated on one of its twice-daily services between its Abu Dhabi International Airport hub and Charles de Gaulle Airport in the French capital, Paris, between July 1, 2017 and October 28, 2017.
The deployment is part of seasonal adjustments to the airline’s fleet plan and will result in a notable capacity growth in the market as the A380 substitutes for a smaller Boeing 777-300ER. The aircraft switch on the ‘EY031/032’ service comes as Etihad also makes changes to its second daily flight in and out of Paris, ‘EY037/038’, which will be switched from an A340-600 to a 777-300ER from May 31, 2017, albeit on some days a smaller A330-300 is also scheduled on this rotation.
The changes mean a notable upgrade of the airline’s product in this market and the debut of its Residence three-room suite beyond First Class offering into the French market. The cabin is only available on its A380 fleet with the type already deployed in the London, New York, Melbourne and Sydney markets.
The additional capacity will provide business and leisure travellers between Paris and markets across the Middle East and into Asia and the Pacific regions the availability of additional capacity across all classes during the peak summer months. Etihad sees a strong value to being able to offer an exclusive A380 operation between Paris and the Australian markets of Melbourne and Sydney via Abu Dhabi supporting the view of manufacturer Airbus that the A380 retains a ‘wow’ factor with the travelling public.
Airbus recently launched a one-of-a-kind booking tool, iflyA380.com, to allow passengers to plan their global travels around the deployment of the A380, a network of more than 2,000 flights per week across 110 routes serving 55 destinations. The manufacturer says the domain can empower travelers to “design their own in-flight travel experience, opting for wider seats, superior service, more entertainment options, and a more comfortable flight overall” versus other long-haul equipment.
“Flying our flagship product to France with additional seat capacity helps fulfil growing demand and meet our guests’ expectations for an even greater travel experience with unmatched luxury, comfort and service,” said Peter Baumgartner, chief executive officer, Etihad Airways. “Paris is one of our busiest and best performing European routes, so the deployment of this upgraded service will benefit travellers to and from Abu Dhabi, and our popular connecting cities across Asia and Australia.”
With a capacity for 496 passengers - two guests in The Residence, nine First Apartments, 70 Business Studios and 415 Economy Smart Seats – the A380 will support key connecting traffic flows behind and beyond Abu Dhabi and Etihad highlights markets across Asia and Australia including Brisbane, Perth, Bangkok, Chengdu, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Manila, Shanghai, Seychelles, Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai, together with destinations across the GCC such as Bahrain, Doha, Jeddah and Muscat with particularly strong flows.
Our own analysis of traffic flows using the AirVision Market Intelligence tool from Sabre Airline Solutions shows that an estimated 395,000 two-way passengers flew with Etihad Airways between Abu Dhabi and Paris last year. The majority (86.8 per cent) were flying on tickets marketed by the Gulf carrier, with smaller flows via its industry partners, including Air France (5.9 per cent), Jet Airways (2.9 per cent), Air Seychelles (1.2 per cent) and Virgin Australia (1.1 per cent). The number of passengers on the leg has more than doubled since 2010 (up 134.4 per cent from around 168,000 passengers in 2010), buoyed by the debut of Etihad’s second daily rotation, albeit overall year-on-year traffic declined 10.7 per cent in 2016 from a high of 440,000 in 2015.
A closer look at passenger flows highlights the essential role of transfer traffic on the route with just 11.5 per cent of travelers outbound from Paris ending their journeys in Abu Dhabi in 2016. The largest connecting flows are to Bangkok, Phuket, Chengdu, Melbourne and Sydney. The point-to-point Paris – Abu Dhabi is the largest city pair, but Paris – Bangkok is only 2,000 passenger per year behind with a total of 15 city pair markets generating O&D flows of more than 3,000 one-way passengers. On the return leg it is a similar story with local traffic accounting for 10.8 per cent of demand, while Delhi replaces Chengdu when considering the top five markets into Paris.