Etihad's Sydney swap: Boeing 777 replaces Airbus A380 from July 2019

Etihad's Sydney swap: Boeing 777 replaces Airbus A380 from July 2019

Etihad Airways will extend the downgrading of one of its two daily Sydney-Abu Dhabi flights to a Boeing 777-300ER on an ongoing basis from July 2019.

The Gulf airline and Virgin Australia partner had previously announced that flight EY451 – which departs Sydney at 3pm for a midnight arrival into Abu Dhabi – and the EY450 return leg would revert from the current short-term Boeing 777 swap to its flagship Airbus A380 at the end of May 2019.

However, Etihad has now locked in that Boeing 777 for EY450/EY451 on its long-term schedule beginning 1 July 2019.

“'Etihad Airways is implementing changes to its A380 network and as a result one of the two daily A380 services from Sydney to Abu Dhabi (EY451/450) will operate on a three-class Boeing 777-300ER from 1 July 2019," a spokesman for Etihad Airways confirmed to Australian Business Traveller.

(That date happens to match the debut of Etihad's A380 between Abu Dhabi and Seoul, where it will displace the route's current Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner.)

So what's the impact of Sydney's sumperjumbo swap-out for business travellers already booked to fly on between Sydney and Abu Dhabi on EY450/EY451 after 1 July 2019?

Given that the Boeing 777 has Etihad's last-generation business class seats, we'd suggest contacting Etihad Airways, your travel agent or travel manager to consider shifting onto the remaining A380 flights EY454/455.

Etihad's Airbus A380 has the better business class seat

While the Boeing 777 business class is still decent, it's a step behind the A380's Business Studio design (above) – while the Boeing also lacks the superjumbo's Lobby social lounge/bar area (below).

Take a break from your seat and socialise in the A380's Lobby area

Of course, the first class experience is markedly different, with the Boeing 777 sporting rather compact suites compared to the A380's spacious Apartments (below) and inflight shower.

Etihad's Airbus A380 first class suites are among the best in the sky

The Etihad Airways spokesman reiterated that the airline "remains fully committed to Australia" by citing its continuing flights to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

However, Perth no longer appears on that list following Etihad's withdrawal from WA skies in October 2018.

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.


  • Aidan


    13 Feb, 2019 07:24 am

    Oh damn another Etihad A380 to Oz bites the dust !
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  • Harrison Mendes


    13 Feb, 2019 07:25 am

    Surely Sydney merits a 3 class 787-9 with new seats? Or does EY not have enough free frames?
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  • simon drakeley


    13 Feb, 2019 08:15 am

    EK seem to be doing the same with adelaide (not yet official perhaps you might be able to find out David?) as 777 2000LR during runway works which seems to be on most flights now following what was supposed to be the end of the works in dubai - i have flights booked in april may july and october and all 777-200LR without first on all - hoping it isnt going to be long term as although its the latest plane in this config its nice to have the option of first without transfering to MEL or SYD
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  • sagidec


    13 Feb, 2019 08:41 am

    According to blog sources, the A380 will be deployed for AUH-ICN route.
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  • eminere


    13 Feb, 2019 12:15 pm

    Yes, the A380 is being taken off Sydney for Seoul.

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  • Andrew Andrew Lane


    13 Feb, 2019 09:47 am

    Wow - thats a massive loss :(
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  • Moynihan


    13 Feb, 2019 10:54 am

    That sucks, I'm in J on EY451 booked using Virgin points in September, what are my chances of getting moved to the as a380?
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  • Traveller14


    13 Feb, 2019 11:11 am

    How long before this loss making airline (and not in a small way) is taken over by EK or something else occurs that sees its end as a standalone operator?

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  • elchriss0


    13 Feb, 2019 11:57 am

    Another reason why i use my VA points for SQ to europe and not EY
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  • JonnoPER


    13 Feb, 2019 04:35 pm

    I agree. Those EY carrier surcharges to redeem using VA points make it not worthwhile at all. It’s almost like buying a ticket outright.
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  • Aleks Popovic


    14 Feb, 2019 08:27 am

    Yep was looking the points options just to fet an idea of it. While I prefer the EY J over the SQ J, the $ value I have to pay will get me a Y class sale fare to Europe including taxes. Seems a little harsh really... better off going with VA/DL/VS via the US even when you look at it.
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  • paulkaz


    13 Feb, 2019 01:42 pm

    EY is owned by the government of Abu Dharbi the far richer prouder and more successful Emirate of the UAE. Sheikh Khalifa may require economic rationalisation within EY but its independence won’t be in doubt.
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  • JonnoPER


    13 Feb, 2019 04:33 pm

    It’s such a shame - Etihad had such a great product and slowly it’s becoming a shadow of itself fading into insignificance whilst trying to keep up with big brother just up the road. Once DWC is fully operational and DXB closes AUH and EY will become pointless.
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  • Joe


    13 Feb, 2019 04:36 pm

    Another nail. If EY or QR think I’ll sit in a prehistoric 777 which is loud, poor atmospherics and cramped in all classes , no on board lounge on long haul from Aus and beyond they thought wrong. I’d fly the A350 and maybe a 787 with GE engines ,but never a 777.
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  • elchriss0


    13 Feb, 2019 07:48 pm

    Their 787s in Y are equally as cramped as 777s
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  • Phil O'Paistree

    Phil O'Paistree

    13 Feb, 2019 04:49 pm

    Tick-tock, tick-tock ... Eti-who?
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  • maabbot


    13 Feb, 2019 05:14 pm

    They are struggling...too much capacity on Oz to middle east...I'd be watching for more reductions.
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  • billy_boy


    13 Feb, 2019 05:22 pm

    Qatar is the best of the Middle Eastern airlines - their business class Q-Suites are everyone else's first class
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    13 Feb, 2019 07:53 pm

    Just looked at QR from Perth for September and it shows a 777-300ER. Another A380 withdrawn from the MEAs? Unclear if it has the Q suites.
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  • Joe


    13 Feb, 2019 09:57 pm

    Don’t let their PR machines blind you. While Qsuite is amazing for a J product, the aircraft they’ve put it in, which you’ll spend 20 hours on, is horrible! I’d much rather be on a Qantas A380 old MKII J seat to London, alighting feeling great, not worn out and dehydrated with my ears humming. The 777 is no better than sitting on a 737 noise wise. The most horrible passenger experience of any modern day jet out there for long and ultra-long haul. I don’t think the 777x will be any better.
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25 Jun, 2019 12:23 pm


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