Etihad will split its Boeing 787-9 fleet into two versions, one with a new-design first class suite and the other with only business and economy class.
The Gulf carrier is Boeing's largest airline customer for the Dreamliner with 71 of the next-gen jets on order, broken down into 41 of the Boeing 787-9 and 30 of the larger 787-10.
Etihad President and CEO James Hogan told Australian Business Traveller that the 787-9 fleet would be divided into 20 three-class configurations and 21 with a two-class layout.
However, the two-class Dreamliners will drop the private suites for a larger business class cabin and possibly an additional mini-cabin for economy.
Hogan said the arrangement would be similar to Etihad's current split of three-class and two-class Boeing 777s.
"The three-class Boeing 787s will be primarily placed into capital cities where we believe there is a strong demand for premium travel" Hogan told Australian Business Traveller.
"On secondary cities and gateways where we don't see the demand we will operate two-class."
"What we've seen is that most European carriers have retreated from first class, so this gives us more opportunity to sell where we are confident there is still a market for first class"
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.