Etihad’s first Airbus A350 flight departs London Heathrow

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Ross Baker, chief commercial officer – Heathrow, Henry Naya - airport manager, Terence Daly - ED guest experience, brand & marketing


Etihad Airways has celebrated the flight of its first Airbus A350 from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi.

As part of the airline’s industry-leading sustainability drive, Etihad’s Airbus A350 aircraft are part of the airline’s ‘Sustainability50’ programme designed as a testbed to drive operational efficiencies and reduce aviation’s impact on the environment.

The ‘Sustainability50’ programme builds on the learnings derived from Etihad’s similar Greenliner programme for the Boeing 787 aircraft type. The Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered Airbus A350 is one of the most efficient aircraft types in the world with 25% less fuel burn and CO2 emissions than previous-generation twin aisle aircraft.

Etihad recently established a formal framework with Airbus to collaborate on sustainability across a number of areas including the promotion and commercialisation of sustainable aviation fuel, waste and weight management and the development of data-driven analysis.

Read more: Etihad and IATA to trial CO2 emissions calculator for air cargo

“We are very proud of the launch of operations for our Airbus A350 aircraft in the UK. The aircraft will provide our guests with a world-class inflight experience whilst having the knowledge that they are choosing a more sustainable method of travel,” Jeremy Pollock, Country Manager, UK & Ireland, Etihad Airways, said.

For guests travelling in Economy, the A350s’ award-winning seats feature Etihad’s signature supportive headrest, USB charging and Bluetooth headphone pairing, as well as a 13.3” inch screen to enjoy Etihad’s award-winning inflight entertainment system. The Airbus A350 also offers the quietest cabin experience for a wide-body aircraft. Guests enjoy complimentary dining and beverages served by Etihad’s award-winning cabin crew.

Read more: Etihad Cargo becomes first Middle Eastern carrier to join TIACA’s BlueSky programme

The sustainability-driven experience includes a 35% larger pillow with a 200 thread-count cotton cover made locally in the UAE, complemented by a soft blanket made from recycled plastic for additional comfort on all flights.

Etihad’s new dining experience features reusable tableware made from recycled high-quality plastic and eliminates the use of single-use plastic. The tray, serving plates and their lids are part of a closed loop recycling system. At the end of their lifecycle, they are collected, washed, ground and reused to make new replacement products. Etihad is also introducing quality stainless-steel cutlery into the Economy cabin to reduce single-use plastic.

The elevated Business Class on Etihad’s Airbus A350s is home to 44 Business Studios with sliding doors that provide a high level of privacy to each suite. Every seat faces forward with direct aisle access. The Business Class seat, with a width of over 20”, converts into a fully-flat bed of 79” in length and features ample storage for convenience.

Also in Business Class, noise-cancelling headphones and an 18.5” TV screen provide a cinematic experience to enjoy Etihad’s extensive inflight entertainment offering. Business Class guests can choose from a carefully curated à la carte menu and guests on longer flights can enjoy Etihad’s signature ‘dine anytime’ service.

Etihad’s A350 aircraft will operate alongside the airline’s Boeing 787 aircraft on the London Heathrow-Abu Dhabi route.