Etihad A380 Flying Melbourne To Abu Dhabi In 2016

Etihad Airways has just announced that they’ll be launching A380 flights between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne as of June 1, 2016. This is pretty exciting news for those in Melbourne, given that Etihad’s A380s are possibly the most gorgeous commercial aircraft in the sky. They feature Etihad’s innovative “The Residence,” as well as their “First Class Apartments.”

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Etihad A380 The Residence

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Etihad A380 The Residence

Etihad presently operates twice daily 777-300ER flights in the market, and one of those frequencies will be converted into an A380. Via airlineroute.net, the A380 frequency will operate with the following schedule:

EY460 Abu Dhabi to Melbourne departing 9:45PM arriving 5:20PM (+1 day)
EY461 Melbourne to Abu Dhabi departing 10:40PM arriving 6:45AM (+1 day)

This will mark Etihad’s fourth A380 destination from Abu Dhabi, after London, Sydney, and New York.

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Etihad A380 First Class Apartments

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Etihad A380 First Class Apartment

Etihad has only a total of 10 A380s on order (so far they’ve taken delivery of five of them), so they’re extremely limited in terms of the number of destinations they can fly them to.

My understanding was that their long term plans were to fly them almost exclusively to London, New York, and Sydney, so that they could offer the planes consistently in those markets. However, it seems like they’re expanding A380 service beyond that. Interestingly the A380 expansion to Melbourne comes exactly a year after Etihad began A380 service to Sydney on June 1, 2015.

For what it’s worth, Etihad A380 First Class Apartment award availability is quite good between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne, with two award seats on many flights. Here’s a primer on how to search Etihad award space.

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The best value for booking that is through American’s AAdvantage program, as they charge 60,000 miles for one-way first class between the Middle East and Australia. Keep in mind that American is selling miles at a discount through November 13, 2015, whereby you can purchase them for as little as ~2.14 cents each.

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Bottom line

I’m sort of surprised to see Etihad add A380 flights to Melbourne, given how few A380s they have on order. I figured they’d rather add A380 frequencies to their existing markets, so they can advertise all A380 service to select markets.

For example, Etihad has two flights a day to New York, and as of November the experience between the two flights couldn’t differ more. One frequency will be operated by the A380, which is the flagship aircraft in their fleet, while the other frequency is operated by a leased Jet Airways 777, which is Etihad’s most underwhelming longhaul aircraft.

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Jet Airways 777-300ER first class

If Etihad were to expand A380 service to new markets, I would have guessed they’d add flights to a city like Paris, which doesn’t require ~33 hours of aircraft utilization for a single roundtrip flight.

Are you excited about Etihad’s new A380 service to Melbourne? Anyone else surprised by this choice?

Comments

  1. Im actually really suprised that EY is flying into Melbourne. Paris seemed like the obvious choice or perhaps LA.

    Whats more confusing is that the capacity on the Sydney flight isnt really that full most of the time. And to be fair, most people who fly from anywhere in the world to Melbourne dont mind transferring to Virgin Australia (codeshare partner with Etihad) off of the Sydney route for a 1 hour domestic flight.

  2. All of the ME3 are really upping their game in Australia which is why I think this isn’t as unexpected as one may think. QR only recently announced a 77W service to Sydney and an A350 service to Adelaide, which is on top of its existing Melbourne and Perth services.

  3. That’s because James Hogan is Australian. Other than the 2 A380 that flies to Australia, BNE is also one of the first destinations serviced by the 787.

  4. @ScttSchwartz I would rather stab myself in the eye with a rusty fork than face an international to domestic transfer at SYD after at 13 hour flight, or more likely 24 hrs from Europe.

  5. @ Lucky — I think you’re missing the peculiar prestige that British and Middle Eastern airlines believe Australian routes bestow. I don’t understand it, but they seem convinced that Being A Truly Global Airline means prioritizing Australia beyond just its profit value. (Talk to BA insiders about their disappointment when BA canceled the kangaroo route, for example.) Also, Emirates’ boss, Tim Clark, is infatuated by all things Down Under, and I can imagine Etihad doesn’t want to be “out-aussied” by its rival.

    @ Ed — Yessss. If an airline had to pick only one Aussie gateway then Melbourne would trump Sydney, thanks to the rigmarole that is intl-to-domestic transfers at SYD (which involve a stupid bus ride or a train trip.) The only disadvantage of MEL is that it’s twice as far from Australia’s third-largest city. But transiting Sydney is the pits.

  6. Lucky, do you or does anyone know if the first class seats on EY460/461 are available to the AAdvantage agents yet? Just tried to make a reservation for July 2016 but the agent told me he had no availability even though I found 2 guest seats in first available on the date I wanted.
    Thanks!

  7. Well this is truly a great news. I plan to travel to Australian in 2016 and Etihad is going to bring their best products to Melbourne. So exciting.

    @Lucky I have calculated. If Etihad operates A380 to JFK, LHR, SYD and MEL exclusively with curent frequence, 10 planes will be required. Since the layovers in SYD and MEL are much longer than others, they can have A380 well maintenanced at there instead of their homebase. However, arcording to an article, Paris will also in the “to-do list”.

    http://www.afr.com/business/transport/aviation/etihad-boosts-a380-services-with-butlers-on-board-20140504-iucnw

    Hence, to keep the consistence between flights on the same routes, Etihad should convert 5 A380 from option to firm order or reduce frequence. I hope they choose the first option because it is not nice for pax to pay the same cost but have to suffer worse products.

  8. @LUCKY

    Hi Lucky

    Like “Michael” above, I am trying to book MEL-AUH one way in F on Nov 23 (-/+ a few days) and Ethiad website shows 2 guest seats avail on many dates (sometimes just 1, sometimes sold out)

    But American agents are saying they can’t see this.

    Is it because MEL is new? Or is there a way around it?

    Many thanks

  9. @TIm: I’ve booked such a seat MEL – AUH in August with AAdvantage without problems – maybe worth trying the HUACA game?

  10. Call the Australia AA reservations number. They can see the availability and put it on hold for you to then ticket with the US agents.

    Sounds crazy, but it’s a known glitch and workaround.

  11. I agree with the one said, Etihad to get rid from Jet airways, they are so pathetic indian career. Also, long halt to Indian cities from Abu Dhabi is irritating. You have to wait for from 2 hours to 8 hours.

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