Virgin Australia partner Etihad Airways will begin flying both its Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 to Australia over the next few years as the airline gears up against Qantas and Emirates for a bigger slice of the Kangaroo Route to Europe.
Sydney will see Etihad's new Airbus A380 from June 2015 with Melbourne to follow in 2016, Etihad Airways President and CEO James Hogan told Australian Business Traveller on the sidelines of a media event in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
Those flights will dovetail at Abu Dhabi to a double-daily A380 service on to London, giving many passengers a long stretch to experience the superjumbo's luxe first class cabins Apartments and The Residence VIP suite, or just the all-new Business Studios in business class.
"We believe the product will be truly unique on the Kangaroo Route" Hogan said. "That's why the aircraft will be operating into Melbourne and Sydney."
The airline's second daily flights from each city to Abu Dhabi would operate on a Boeing 777 which will be upgraded to feature the new Business Studios.
Hogan also revealed plans to upgrade the Brisbane and Perth routes to a Boeing 787-9, which he said would be sometime in 2016-2017 when the airline takes delivery of twelve Dreamliners.
Update: Etihad will launch Boeing 787 flights between Brisbane and Abu Dhabi as of June 1st, 2015.
Etihad currently flies to Brisbane using an Airbus A330, which makes a pit stop in Singapore on the way to Abu Dhabi.
Etihad will begin a daily Perth service from July 15, also using an Airbus A330, adding to the non-Qantas options for WA travellers following Qantas' decision to axe international flights from Perth this month.
Australian Business Traveller is visiting Abu Dhabi as a guest of Etihad Airways.
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.