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Etihad set to fly two-class Boeing 787 without first class

By David Flynn     Filed under: Etihad, first class, Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Etihad will begin flying two-class Boeing 787s from mid-2016, with the pared-back Dreamliners swapping their private first class suites (below) for substantially more economy seats.

Read: Etihad's Boeing 787 first class suite

The two-class configuration will retain the same number of 28 Business Studio business class nooks (below) but raise the economy count from 195 to 271 seats.

Read: Etihad's Business Studio business class

A spokesperson for Etihad Airways confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the first of the 'first-free' Boeing 787-9s will be seen on the airline's Abu Dhabi-Dusseldorf route from May 1st 2016, to be followed by Perth from June 1st, Shanghai and Istanbul from August 1st, and Johannesburg from November 1st.

The Gulf carrier is one of 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 longer 787-10.

Speaking to Australian Business Traveller at the 2014 launch of the airline's Boeing 787 and Airbus A380 fleet, Etihad President and CEO James Hogan said the 787-9 fleet would be divided into 20 three-class configurations and 21 with a two-class layout.

Hogan added 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."

Several airlines are drawing down their first class cabins on future jets in favour of the latest generation of business class, including United's new Boeing 777-300ERsCathay Pacific's Airbus A350-1000 and Qatar's promised 'business class bedroom' for its Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 fleet.

At the same time, Etihad's superlative Airbus A380 first class apartments are driving Emirates and Singapore Airlines to upgrade their own superjumbo suites.

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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.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 18/12/15 by asw

Dusseldorf getting alot of new capacity in 2016.  Etihad, Cathay and Singapore all commence services there in 2016.

2 on 18/12/15 by Brad

Does this mean they might put a bit more room in economy as the current 787 from Brisbane is the worst I have experienced for comfort?

1 on 18/12/15 by BeijingBogan

 I have doubts... If the business class seat count stays the same, and Economy goes from 195 to 271.. you can basically equate that the 8 First class seats were occupying the room of 76 economy seats (ok I've taken some liberties with Galley and Lavatory assumptions) but numbers certainly don't sound like EY is giving much back to the Y pax. 

2 on 18/12/15 by bob342

I agree with you Brad, I've flown Singapore Airways and Etihad recently from Brisbane, and the economy seats in Etihad are woefully small.  I was really surprised..

1 on 21/12/15 by Brad

Yes verry dissapointing given all the hype on how the 787 would improve the comfort for passengers. This matters little if you are squashed into a seat with your knees into the seat in front. I am 190cm tall however this is the first time I experienced this on a long hall flight. Everything else about Etihad was great however being a VA Platinum FF I will be looking to Signapore Airlines for future Europe trips.

1 on 21/12/15 by FLX

A fair enough choice.

However, I strongly supect there may be enough EY customers,  possibly shorter than 190cm in height, who may still choose to fly EY's 789(Contrary to popular belief, Y seat width on a 9 abreast 787 is actually the same as a 10 abreast 747 on almost all longhaul routes over the past 4 decades) and pocket the substantial fare diff EY vs SQ.

Out of curiosity, I hv just taken a casual look of the diff in the lowest available Y fares EY vs SQ for a hypotheical SYD-LHR itin in Mar16(i.e. low season).  Conclusion:  SQ fare is higher  than EY by @ least 13% across the entire month....or more than enough $ to pay for a SYD-OOL roundtrip.

Clinically speaking in terms of value(e.g. $ per inch of seat width or leg room), neither does SQ offers 13% more Y seat width nor seat ptich than EY's 789....

Well, I guess we can still find justifications for the inferior value equation of SQ  thru paying a premium for intangibles such as the legendary SQ brand+image(e.g. Singapore girls, I can brag to my friends/colleagues that I'm flying with superior SQ, etc.).

2 on 21/12/15 by FLX

Will you be equally surprised to learn that between the largest Y of SQ(i.e. on their 380) and the Y of EY's 789, diff in seat width is less than 10% and in seat pitch(i.e. legroom) is less than 3.5%(Or just 1 inch)?

So for a tall person of say 6ft 4in(i.e. 190cm) by simple mathematics, I honestly don't know how that 1 extra inch of leg room can help change perception from EY's <woefully small> to say, SQ's wonderfully large......may be SQ uses a diff measurement system of SQ magic inches that are larger than the standard inches.....

1 on 21/12/15 by Brad

It may be the way the seats are angled FLX however my econnomy seat test is very simple. If my kness touch the seat in front in a seated position then it is just too tight. On that trip I also flew Airitalia and Niki in ecconnomy and did not have the same issue.

3 on 25/1/16 by sgb

Yes, I had a friend travel on Etihad to Vienna late last year, flew up from Launcestion to Melbourne in pure luxury on Jetstar, and was really looking forward to the glam of an o/s carrier, he tells me he was having a 'back attack' soon after passing over Ballarat...the seats were so squashed in width, recline, and the isles were terribly narrow, when a trolley passed by you would get knocked into. The comfort of the seat was 1 out of 10, appalling.


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