23 October 2013

Not all Gulf airlines want the same: Etihad Airways prefers not being a launch customer for new aircraft type and will wait until 2017 to receive their first A350-900.

Etihad Airways chooses not to be a launch partner for new commercial aircraft, preferring to wait until any potential problems have been resolved. And this cautious move has paid dividends this year as Etihad escaped 787 and A380 problems.

James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad, revealed the Abu Dhabi carrier makes a conscious decision not to be a launch customer, a claim usually viewed as a proud moment.

“While we are an airline which prides itself on having a young, modern fleet, we are never the first to introduce a new aircraft type. This is our choice,” Hogan said. “We prefer to wait until new aircraft types have entered service with other carriers, and any technical issues are resolved, before we introduce the same models.”

The cautious decision is typical of how Etihad has grown its business, and flies in the face of the approaches taken by Gulf rival carriers Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Dubai-based Emirates is highly expected to be announced as a launch partner for Boeing’s new 777X fleet later this year and was one of the first airlines to begin using the Airbus A380.

Likewise Qatar Airways will be the first customer to receive Airbus’ new A350.

Etihad will have been congratulating themselves for their wary approach in January this year however, as all Boeing 787 Dreamliners were grounded, including Qatar’s fleet of 5.

Instead, Hogan confirmed Etihad will take 41 787-9 Dreamliners from the start of next year, the Airbus A380 – which has also suffered minor issues since its launch – late in 2014 and the A350 from 2017.

Based on the article “Etihad CEO: «We Choose Not To Launch New Aircraft»” published in Gulf Business

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