Etihad plans to resume a reduced network of scheduled passenger flights from 1 May, providing the UAE government lifts the current travel restrictions.
All scheduled passenger flights in and out of the UAE were suspended on 25 March following a government directive.
Since then, Etihad has operated 500 special repatriation and freighter flights but these have only carried outbound passengers and brought back UAE citizens and goods. Around 80% of Etihad’s fleet remains grounded.
Etihad said on Thursday that it plans to resume some regular passenger services from 1 May until 30 June, with the aim of gradually returning to a fuller schedule.
“The monumental challenges being faced by all airlines, and our customers, have been beyond measure,” said Tony Douglas, group CEO, Etihad Aviation Group.
“However, we remain cautiously optimistic and will push ahead with our plans to resume normal flying, while striving to better serve and support our customers and our employees.”
Douglas continued: “While the intention is to assume a ‘business as usual’ approach to the restart of our operations, the aviation landscape has changed, and how it will look month by month is difficult to predict. This has necessitated a fundamental shift in focus for us.”
Etihad is currently using 22 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 777-300ER passenger aircraft for its special repatriation flights. Passenger aircraft are also being used to add cargo capacity to its fleet of five 777-200F freighters.
Etihad also said in a statement that it had revised the launch date of its inaugural service to Vienna from 22 May to 1 July.
Most extensive maintenance programme in Etihad’s history
With 80% of its passenger fleet on the ground, the airline has embarked on the biggest aircraft maintenance programme in its history.
Etihad Engineering, the group’s Engineering Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) division, is performing maintenance work on 96 passenger aircraft including 29 Airbus A320 and A321s, 10 Airbus A380s, 38 Boeing 787s, and 19 Boeing 777-300ERs.
The programme ranges from minor maintenance tasks, such as seat repairs and updates to Inflight Entertainment Systems, to bringing forward scheduled engine changes and modifications on several aircraft.
To date, this work has seen almost 19,000 seat covers laundered, and over 40 rolls of new carpets and 367 metres of leather used. Furthermore, approximately 5,000 aircraft touch points have been checked, and more than 4,000 parts fabricated through the engineering workshop.