The Etihad Cuts Continue: This Time, It’s Axing One Daily A380 Frequency to New York

Jun 5, 2018

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Etihad has been cutting its premium offerings, temporarily suspending US routes and even permanently canceling some (San Francisco and Dallas). On Tuesday, the United Arab Emirates-based said it will cut one of its two daily frequencies between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and New York (JFK).

As of October 1, 2018, Etihad is scrapping one of its two daily A380 frequencies to JFK. The destination has long been the dominant US market for Etihad, and it’s the only US airport that the carrier serves twice daily — and with its superjumbo. After September 30, 2018, the carrier displays just one daily flight between AUH and JFK on its schedule.

Until June 2017, Etihad operated 2x daily service between the two cities with an A380 and Boeing 777.  Then it swapped in another A380 for the 777. The aircraft swap was a positive sign, suggesting there was the demand to fill the A380’s 496-seats, including two passengers in the Residence.

The Residence on board Etihad's A380.
The Residence on board Etihad’s A380.

“Etihad Airways will amend its schedule from Abu Dhabi to New York (JFK), from a double daily to a daily service, effective October 2018,” Etihad said in a statement. “Along with our travel agency partners, we will work closely with any impacted guests to notify them of the changes to their itineraries and re-accommodate them on alternative flights.”

As of October 1, 2018, the carrier will offer 6x weekly A380 service between the two cities, and 1x weekly Boeing 777 service on Tuesdays. In all, the remaining frequencies operate on the following schedule:

  • EY101 Abu Dhabi (AUH) 9:55am Departure ⇒ New York (JFK) 4:10pm Arrival
  • EY100 New York (JFK) 10:55pm Departure ⇒ Abu Dhabi (AUH) 8:05pm (+1) Arrival

Among all of the cuts Etihad has made in recent months, there’s reason to believe this cut at JFK has more to do with the carrier’s financial situation rather than a sudden decrease in demand. Rather than keeping two of its superjumbos on the route for two daily frequencies, it’s opting instead to allocate one to serve on its AUH to Paris (CDG) route.

On Tuesday, the carrier announced that effective October 1, 2018 — the same date of the JFK reduction — it will be operating both of its AUH-CDG frequencies with the A380. Currently, Etihad’s 2x daily frequencies to Paris are operated by an A380 and a 777.

In 2017, Etihad reported almost $2 billion in net loss for 2016 — the first time the carrier had reported losses since 2011. At the time, Etihad blamed the losses on the cost of aircraft, as well as lower market values and the early phase out of some aircraft from its fleet. Of course, there were other factors contributing to the carrier’s losses, such as the political crisis in the Gulf and its partnership with the struggling Alitalia. Just earlier this year, the carrier was reportedly considering canceling aircraft orders to cut its ongoing losses.

Featured image by Boeing746 / Getty Images.

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