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.”
Etihad A380 The Residence
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)
Etihad A380 First Class Apartments
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.
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.
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.
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?