Big day for Etihad: new livery & first Airbus A380 rolled-out
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.
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...!
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.
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 a final note for aviation enthusiasts...