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.
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.