Etihad rules out further Airbus A380 purchases
Etihad Airways has revealed it does not plan more A380 purchases in a blow for the manufacturer Airbus as it ponders the future of its US$25 billion superjumbo programme.
The Abu Dhabi carrier’s chief executive said yesterday that a halt in the production of the world’s biggest passenger plane will not affect its strategy, as it does not plan to take more than it already has on order from the European manufacturer.
“When you are taking 10 aircraft, then whether Airbus continues the production line or not isn’t an issue,” said James Hogan, the Etihad president and chief executive, at an Abu Dhabi airport event yesterday to showcase Etihad’s first A380 and Boeing 787.
Mr Hogan’s remarks add weight to comments last week from Airbus that there is a lack of new buyers for the superjumbo, raising the possibility of ending production of its flagship plane.
The news angered Emirates because the aircraft plays a key role in its expansion strategy.
Emirates is currently the world’s largest A380 operator, with 56 in its fleet and a further 84 on order.
But for other airlines the A380 can be too expensive to operate and difficult to fill.
Etihad said it will operate its first A380 from December 27 with plans to use it on its London, Sydney and New York routes.
However, Etihad said there would be some delays to the launch of its Boeing 787 services, which were also due to begin at the end of the month.
“There will be a delay of one or two weeks … but we are working on these production issues with our partners. You always see this with the first or second aircraft,” said Mr Hogan.
Etihad said that the financing for its first A380 was provided Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, while FGB and Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank have funded its orders for the 787, also known as the Dreamliner.
In the past 10 years, Etihad has raised more than $8bn from 68 financial institutions for the purchase of aircraft and engines, it said.
With the rapid growth of the aviation industry in the Gulf region, more local and regional banks are stepping in to lend to local carriers.
Separately, Etihad said it has “no acquisitions on the radar”.
The airline will instead focus on “consolidating” its business with its existing equity partners.
Over the past three years Etihad has been acquiring equity stakes in struggling carriers to boost its geographic footprint and connectivity.
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Updated: December 18, 2014 04:00 AM