Big day for Etihad: new livery & first Airbus A380 rolled-out

 A matter of scale...

A matter of scale...

Last Thursday was an important day for Etihad, the Abu Dhabi-based airline rolled-out, at once, a new corporate livery and its first Airbus A380.

I had the chance to attend the roll-out event, that took place outdoors at Airbus' Finkenwerder factory, near Hamburg, and enjoy the magnificent show that highlighted these two major milestones in the life of the fast-growing 11-year old airline.

 Minutes before the roll-out ceremony the expectation is mounting...Etihad's very first A380 will roll out of this hangar

Minutes before the roll-out ceremony the expectation is mounting...Etihad's very first A380 will roll out of this hangar

Proof that this was quite an special aircraft delivery is the fact that the CEOs of both Airbus, Fabrice Bérgier, and Etihad Airways, James Hogan, were present at the event, delivering some short speeches that highlighted the symbiotic relationship between both companies.

 Airbus' CEO, Fabrice Brégier, was there as well, showing his appreciation to an important client

Airbus' CEO, Fabrice Brégier, was there as well, showing his appreciation to an important client

 James Hogan, the CEO of Etihad Airways, outlines how the airlines' growth and numerous aircraft orders have been very beneficial for the European aerospace industry

James Hogan, the CEO of Etihad Airways, outlines how the airlines' growth and numerous aircraft orders have been very beneficial for the European aerospace industry

With media and guests congregated in front of a massive hangar, a stunning display of music and light preceded the actual (and literal!) A380 roll-out...the video is not of the best quality (I filmed it with my iPhone) but I think it conveys the excitement of the moment...in any case, with the hand that was not holding the phone, I was also able to take some pictures...!

 The large bird slowly getting out of its nest...

The large bird slowly getting out of its nest...

 First glimpses of Etihad's new livery!

First glimpses of Etihad's new livery!

 Etihad's A380 looking magnificent...

Etihad's A380 looking magnificent...

 Now a lateral view, as Etihad's A380 is turning around in front of the audience

Now a lateral view, as Etihad's A380 is turning around in front of the audience

 And, of course, a view of the whole aircraft. I like Etihad's new livery!

And, of course, a view of the whole aircraft. I like Etihad's new livery!

With the introduction of the Airbus A380, Etihad is not only adding an iconic aircraft to its fleet, but also rolling-out a suite of new ground-breaking in-flight products to differentiate itself from its competitors in the up-market segment: "The Residence" and "the First Apartments".

"The Residence", that we already featured a few months back, is the first three-room private suite, complete with double bedroom and  en-suite bathroom, to be rolled-out on an airliner. When meeting journalists after the event, James Hogan confirmed that with this product Etihad Airways aims to compete not only with other airlines but also with private jet operators. In fact, although still subject to the schedule of a regular airliner, passengers fortunate enough to fly "The Residence", will possibly be able to enjoy a level of comfort superior to that of many a private jet, as the size and spaciousness of the A380 open up many possibilities simply not feasible on smaller aircraft.

Also in Etihad's A380 first class section, although slightly smaller than "The Residence", the "First Apartments" are private suites offering also quite unprecedented levels of privacy and comfort.

 A close-up of the A380 tail, possibly the most visible element in the airline's new livery, designed by Landor Associates and featuring a pattern called "Facets of Abu Dhabi", inspired in the colours of the Emirati landscape

A close-up of the A380 tail, possibly the most visible element in the airline's new livery, designed by Landor Associates and featuring a pattern called "Facets of Abu Dhabi", inspired in the colours of the Emirati landscape

 Another lateral close-up of the Airbus A380

Another lateral close-up of the Airbus A380

 And here an unusual angle of the huge Rolls-Royce engines that power the A380

And here an unusual angle of the huge Rolls-Royce engines that power the A380

Etihad has designated Abu Dhabi as the first route for its A380, but it has up to 10 of the type on order (we could actually see also Etihad's second A380 being readied at an adjacent hangar!) After London, and, as soon as more aircraft are delivered, it will be the turn of New York and Sydney to welcome Etihad's über-luxurious airliner.

 And here is Etihad's second Airbus A380, getting ready...

And here is Etihad's second Airbus A380, getting ready...

And a final note for aviation enthusiasts...

 We were not alone covering the event! Airbus was flying this quadcopter drone above the site during the ceremony!

We were not alone covering the event! Airbus was flying this quadcopter drone above the site during the ceremony!