Etihad has chosen Heathrow as the debut route for the Airbus A380 superjumbo, which will also include a suite costing $20,000 per flight.
The Abu Dhabi-based airline will launch its first superjumbos and Boeing 787 Dreamliners in December with both aircraft seeing the introduction of new seats across all three cabin classes.
While economy and business class seats will be the same on both aircraft, Etihad is aiming for a “private jet” experience with its first class service on the A380.
This upper-deck cabin will feature nine “apartments”, six of which will have connecting doors, plus The Residence – a three-room 125 square foot cabin with lounge, bedroom and shower-room, as well as exclusive service from a butler trained at London’s Savoy hotel.
The new cabins will feature on the first A380 service from Abu Dhabi to Heathrow on December 27. Fares for The Residence will cost $20,000 one-way for single or double occupancy on these flights.
Etihad chief executive James Hogan said: “With The Residence, we are taking the concept of the private jet or super yacht to create a private three-room suite. It will be exclusive and we want people to aspire to it – there will be no upgrades and that includes staff.
“We are confident that there’s a strong market for The Residence and our apartments onboard the A380. We have been working on this for five years and believe it’s a step change for the industry.”
Etihad’s second A380 will also fly on the Abu Dhabi-Heathrow route from early 2015, while further deliveries will see the aircraft begin flying to Sydney and New York later next year.
The carrier’s first Dreamliners, which will also include new first-class suites, will initially be used on routes from Abu Dhabi to Washington DC, Dusseldorf and Mumbai, before being extended to other destinations.
Hogan confirmed that Etihad would not be using an A380 on its route to Manchester although the city could eventually be served by a Dreamliner although plans were “not set in stone”.