Etihad Airways ending Abu Dhabi-Perth flights from October 1

A file image of Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 A6-BLI at Perth Airport. (Keith Anderson)
A file image of Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 A6-BLI at Perth Airport. (Keith Anderson)

Etihad Airways will cease nonstop flights between Perth and Abu Dhabi from October 1 2018.

The end of its daily Perth flights will leave Etihad Airways with services to three Australian destinations – Brisbane (daily with Boeing 787-9s), Melbourne (twice daily with 787-9s and 777-300ERs) and Sydney (twice daily with Airbus A380s).

An Etihad Airways spokesperson said the decision to drop Perth was part of an “ongoing review of network performance”.

“The cancellation of the Perth route is one of several adjustments that we are making to our network in 2018 in order to improve system profitability,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

“Etihad Airways is grateful to the city of Perth and its authorities, Perth Airport, local businesses, the travel trade, and the travelling public for their partnership throughout the years of our operation.

“Along with our travel agency partners, we will work closely with impacted guests to notify them of the changes to their itineraries and re-accommodate them on alternative flights.”

Etihad Airways began flying to Perth in 2014 with Airbus A330-200s, before upgauging the service to Boeing 787-9 equipment in 2016.

In 2015, the airline said it had been “thrilled” with the performance of its Perth-Abu Dhabi flights.

However, in recent years there has been an increase in competition from the likes of Emirates, which has boosted capacity through the use of the Airbus A380, and Qatar Airways, which began serving Perth in 2012 and also plans to use the A380 to Perth from May 2018.

And in March Qantas commenced its Perth-London Heathrow nonstop flight with Boeing 787-9s.

Further, Singapore Airlines, which competes for passengers travelling to Europe, is bolstering its offering on the Perth-Singapore from May when it deploys the 787-10 with its latest cabin products, including lie-flat beds with direct aisle access in business class on the route.

An analysis of the Australian government’s Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) figures showed Etihad carried 86,367 passengers on its Perth-Abu Dhabi flights in the six months to January 2018.

This was down three per cent from 89,126 passengers in the prior corresponding six-month period to January 2017.

The end of nonstop flights to Perth is the latest in a series of network changes at Etihad Airways as part of efforts to improve its financial position under chief executive Tony Douglas, who took the reins in January 2018.

It is ending flights to to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam at the end of August, while service to Edinburgh, Scotland will cease in September.

Previously, the airline has also withdrawn from Dallas/Fort Worth and San Francisco, and reduced frequency on its nonstop Abu Dhabi-Los Angeles schedule.

“Etihad Airways is committed to the Australian market and continues to offer regular schedules to its key gateways across Australia through Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, all of which are major markets for the airline,” the Etihad spokesperson said.

Etihad Airways’ investments in other airlines, a hallmark of former chief executive James Hogan’s tenure as chief executive is also under the spotlight, given the collapse of airberlin and ongoing financial difficulties of Alitalia.

Etihad Airways in 2017 sold off its shareholding in Switzerland-based Darwin Airline to Slovenia-based Adria Airways.

In Australia, Etihad Airways holds a 20 per cent stake in alliance partner Virgin Australia and has a seat on the Australian carrier’s board.

Its other airline investments include India’s Jet Airways, Air Seychelles and Air Serbia.

Virgin Australia was to have started its own Abu Dhabi-Perth flights with A330-200s in 2017 but cancelled the service even before the inaugural flight took off due to what it said at the time were changes in market conditions that made the route unviable.

Comments

  1. Baxter says

    This sucks, I used this flight so much when flying from Perth to Brazil or Europe. Etihad was always a cheaper flight, though holds one of the highest standards in airlines. I will miss the Abu Dhabi layover

  2. NJP says

    86,367pax, I would be interested to hear what the average load factor was and how that compares to other airlines servicing the PERTH > Middle East routes

  3. Lechuga says

    Interesting, this does mean Etihad have a spare “slot” I guess into Australia, could we see a 2nd daily Brisbane or 3rd daily Melbourne (to make up lost capacity when they started double daily A380s to Sydney)

  4. k lane says

    The issue is profitability for Etihad. I suspect they wont be adding any routes into AU until these issues are resolved
    Edinburgh has is also losing daily service alongside Perth

  5. Peter Zappa says

    Etihad won’t be missed by all of Perth…. I did 4 sectors with them late last year, to London and return from New York. I have to say it was the worst airline experience I’ve had in all my years of flying.
    There are so many other great airlines servicing Perth, we don’t need them!

  6. Michael Hall says

    With non-stop flights from Australia now possible, I can see less and less demand for one stop flights via the Gulf. It looks the same as when Gander went from being a stop for every North Atlantic flight to almost unused by passengers with the arrival of the 707 / jet age. This will mean that to get someone to “stop over” you will need a fair bit to offer or a really low ticket price. And your city will need to compete with the Asian cities as a place people want to spend time.

  7. Chris says

    Cathay will be happy as they have lost of tonne of market share to Middle East carries offering one stop options to anywhere and everywhere. Definitely going to be interesting to see the next few years how the gulf carriers share, EK are well placed but QR and EY might struggle.

  8. Dee Thom says

    I feel that the previous CEO of Ethiad over capitalised on outside airlines instead of consolidating what his airline had. . Sure, it was a gambit against EY in Dubai, but he did have one of the Royals financing him.
    I have travelled on Etihad in J on a few occasions out of BNE, and have found the trip in the middle to high area of other J presentations.
    Cheers,
    Dee.

  9. Franz chong says

    Have they thought about Adelaide services.granted things could be a bit tight with all the middle eastern carriers leaving around the same time back to their home ports with people bound for Europe and the U.K.but It would keep things competitive.

  10. Desert Storm says

    I live in Abu Dhabi and use the Perth service frequently. Business is top notch, economy hit and miss, however, it is always 90% capacity and rarely a spare seat if you want to spread out a bit. Generally full of people transiting where on most occasions there are only 10 – 20 of us claiming luggage at the carousels, often made me laugh! So now it is a 2 hour drive to Dubai (along with associated hassle) or Etihad to Singapore or KL with a couple of hours to stretch the legs and then drop down to Perth. Frankly it will be a pain the backside…….

    Hogan has a lot to answer for IMHO.

    franz chong, unless the SA government subsidizes the service, no chance……

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