The Etihad Airways Airbus A350-1000 fleet in Abu Dhabi has grown slightly as another of the aircraft left storage in Bordeaux. While it is exciting to see the aircraft travel across the globe to their new home, we likely still have a sizable wait until they eventually enter service.
The first Airbus A350 bound for Etihad was delivered back in June 2019. Over two years have passed, and the jets are yet to enter service. However, some activity is finally being seen with the entire fleet being relocated to the airport that they will come to call home after years in storage.
Last A350 heads to Abu Dhabi
So far, Etihad has taken delivery of five Airbus A350-1000 jets. Four were delivered in 2019, with the latest arriving on May 25th last year, at the height of the pandemic. Etihad had been taking delivery of these jets on paper, with them flying to Bordeaux, just up the road from Toulouse.
Yesterday, the last of these five took its ‘delivery flight’, flying to its new home in Abu Dhabi. According to data from RadarBox.com, the aircraft flew to Etihad’s hub as F-WXAE, its Airbus test registration. The jet took off at 09:47 but didn’t fly straight to its destination.
Instead, the aircraft flew over the Bay of Biscay, seemingly testing that all the systems were working as expected after an extended stay in storage. At around 10:55, the aircraft turned towards Abu Dhabi and climbed to a cruise altitude of 41,000 feet. The plane then touched down in its new home at 19:26. The flight lasted seven hours and 38 minutes.
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The aircraft carries the serial number 388 and first flew on April 23rd, 2020, making it 1.41 years old. According to data from ch-aviation.com, the aircraft is due to be registered as A6-XWE. Its current market value is listed as $134.55 million.
When will we see the jets in service?
Unfortunately, there’s still a wait until these jets enter the blue skies with passengers. Last month, the airline’s CEO Tony Douglas told Simple Flying during an exclusive interview that the A350 would enter service in 2022.
Speaking to Simple Flying, Douglas said,
“We accepted our first two into Abu Dhabi just three months ago to undertake the cabin fit-out and configuration. We have a large-scale MRO here, Etihad Engineering. Not surprisingly, I’ve been in the first one, and the product is absolutely incredible, as you would all expect from Etihad. We’ll look to schedule those into service probably next year.”
Unfortunately, we don’t know when in 2022 these aircraft will debut. It could mean January, or it could mean December. We’ve got our fingers crossed that it is sooner rather than later.
Are you excited to see the last of the five Airbus A350s flying over to Abu Dhabi? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!