The end of the Airbus A320 and A321 at Etihad Airways is imminent. A large order for the A321neo also seems to be in jeopardy, now that the airline has indicated that it only wants to operate large aircraft.
Etihad already had a difficult time before the coronavirus crisis and is now revising the fleet and management. Various top positions will be cut in order to reduce operating costs and to simplify the company structure.
“We cannot afford to keep adapting to the market in small steps. That is why we take drastic decisions, ”said CEO Tony Douglas. This means, among other things, that Etihad wants to transform itself into a medium-sized, full-service airline, which only operates widebody aircraft.
The fleet currently includes twenty Airbus A320s and ten A321s. In addition, 26 A321neos are on order. Etihad appears to want to focus on Boeing 777 and 787 flights with the announcement. The Airbus A380 fleet has been grounded for months and it is likely the type will not return to service.
It is possible Etihad will leave the low-demand routes for Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, a budget airline with which Etihad has a codeshare agreement. This would make Air Arabia a feeder airline for the long-haul Etihad network, allowing both airlines to operate more efficiently.