Time to take a look at the fleet of one of my favourite airlines: Etihad Airways.
Everybody knows about Etihad’s UAE rival, Emirates, but upon closer inspection, casual passengers will probably notice that there is not much difference in quality between the two airlines, despite the boastfulness of Emirates! Etihad is, in fact, the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates and was only inaugurated as recently as 2003. Its home base at Abu Dhabi International Airport is one of the region’s leading aviation hubs and is served by the majority of important airlines that operate within realistic flying range. As a member of the ME3 (Middle-East 3 [or ME4 if you include Turkish Airlines]), Etihad have a central geographical role in transporting passengers from every corner of the globe via a stopover/connection in Abu Dhabi. As such, you may be travelling with Etihad more often then you think in the years to come. So let’s examine the type of aircraft they have in their fleet:
The Airbus A320 is what Etihad use on short-haul flights around the Middle-East. Etihad has 25 A320 aircraft in its fleet, with most carrying 16 passengers in Business Class and at least 120 in economy class. A few of Etihad’s A320s are in economy-only configuration. Flights to Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and various cities in Saudi Arabia use this narrowbody aircraft, although I have actually flown the A320 to Istanbul. That, for me, is slightly pushing the limits of how long (3 hours) I would want to fly on a narrowbody aircraft, but Etihad also uses these for flights to some secondary Indian cities and even Colombo in Sri Lanka!
The Airbus A330 is the next step up from the A320, and is the smallest widebody aircraft in Etihad’s fleet. There are 27 of them in Etihad’s fleet, with a maximum of 262 passengers in each (no first class). Some secondary European cities see this aircraft in Etihad’s colours, but mainly Etihad uses it for flights to the Sub-Continent, including Kathmandu.
The Airbus A340 is one of the less successful aircraft operated by Etihad, and in fact it will be completely phased out by the end of 2017. The A340 can hold up to 240 passengers, but unlike the A330, it does have a first class cabin (12 seats). Etihad have sent their A340 to many European destinations in the past, and I am sure I have flown on it to Tokyo-Narita a couple of years ago.
The Airbus A380 is the largest aircraft in the Etihad fleet, although currently they only have 4 of them (6 more on order). With a whopping 498 passengers capacity (including 11 first class cabins, 1 first class residence, and 70 business class seats), this superjumbo operates on Etihad’s most successful routes, such as to London-Heathrow and New York-JFK.
The Boeing B777 has been an important part of Etihad’s growth in recent years, and there are 25 of them currently in the fleet. Some of the aircraft are configured in different ways, but they can hold anything between 312-412 passengers, including a first class cabin of 8 seats. I have flown on the Etihad B777 to Singapore Changi Airport and it was a great experience. To prove how important the B777 is to Etihad, they have 25 more on order (more modern variants).
The Boeing B787 Dreamliner is the newest part of the Etihad fleet, and they see it as possibly the most important aircraft for their future success, due to its economical long-range. As such, as well as the current 5 currently in service, Etihad have another 66 on order! Up to 235 passengers can fit on the Etihad 787, and this includes 8 in first class and up to 28 in business class. Among destinations currently served by the Etihad 787 are Singapore, Zurich, and Brisbane – which at 15 hours non-stop, is the longest flight operated by the airline.