As a part of a restructure plan, Etihad Airways Cargo has grounded all of their AiRBI’s A330-200Fs (Freighter), leaving behind a cargo fleet of only 5 Boeing 777Fs. This sudden move was reportedly made in order to cope with the major losses the State-owned airline has been facing.
Etihad’s A330 freighter fleet was very young. The latest A330F (A6-DCE) joined the fleet in February 2017. The A330Fs had a wide-spread network, covering many parts of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and South East Asia. As per a statement by Etihad, the B777F is the most suitable and economical freighter aircraft for the carrier.
Etihad had bought stakes in various airlines like Jet Airways, Alitalia, Air Berlin etc. Unfortunately, this was a major step-back for Etihad, since the stocks have so far failed to deliver profitable income.
In 2017, Etihad reported a loss of $2 billion; ever since, the airline has been executing plans to restructure itself in an efficient way. Etihad could consider selling or leasing the grounded A330Fs as part of this reconstruction plan. Three A330Fs are stored at Abu Dhabi Airport and two at Al Ain Airport as per the flight data/history of the respected aircraft.
The restructuring plan has not only reduced and affected Etihad’s fleet size, but also the number of employees working at Etihad. As per a report, pilots were asked to take a paid leave on a voluntary basis.
Etihad also plans to retire their fleet of 5 B777-200LR aircraft, which Etihad introduced in the 2013, after purchasing all 5 of the aircraft from Air India. The decision to retire the planes comes after Etihad reduced its flight network in the US (where they operated the B777LR). Etihad has already withdrawn Abu Dhabi-San Francisco route while Abu Dhabi-Dallas Fort Worth route to be withdrawn soon. The 777LRs are the primary long haul aircraft for Etihad. Ceasing certain long haul routes has limited the utilization of the B777LRs. Currently Etihad is using the B777LR on medium/short haul flights.
A massive order of 50 A350s and other wide bodies like the Boeing 777X is expected to be delivered in the next 7-8 years. In November 2017, Etihad retired all of their A340-600 aircraft, followed by a retirement of their A330-200Fs and the eventual retirement of B777-200LRs. This restructuring plan should put Etihad back on track and out of its debts.
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