Etihad renews commitment to 777F fleet amidst rumors of takeover by Emirates

Beginning Oct. 1, Etihad Airways cargo will “reboot” its freighter network with an adjusted flight schedule that reflects the carrier’s ongoing commitment albeit with a smaller freighter fleet, which now consists of just five 777Fs.

As part of the new schedule, Etihad will continue to operate freighter flights along core trade lanes connecting Asia and Europe with the carrier’s Abu Dhabi (AUH) hub. Etihad is adding additional weekly frequencies to Shanghai (PVG) and Chennai (MAA), while keeping scheduled flights to a number of existing destinations, such as Amsterdam (AMS), Frankfurt (FRA), Columbus (LCK), Hong Kong (HKG), Hanoi (HAN) and a number of other airports, consistent.

Etihad, the 15-year-old airline, has had a rocky couple of years – reshuffling its management team and rearranging its fleet while operating in the red. In 2016, the company reported a $1.9 billion loss, and end of last year, a $1.5 billion loss. Then, in January of this year, the company parked its five A330-200 freighters, and later sold them to DHL Express last month.

“Our freighters are central to [our] strategy, and the new network will ensure we maximize the cargo flows between main deck cargo and belly hold capacity on our strong fleet of passenger jets that service our global network,” Etihad’s Abdulla Mohamed Shadid, managing director of cargo and logistics said.

The announcement comes amidst rumors that two of the Middle East’s “big three” carriers, Etihad and Emirates, may be moving forward with a deal for the latter carrier to take over the former, according to a report from Bloomberg, but the deal has since been denied by both carriers.

Regardless of whether a takeover is imminent, or just a mere rumor, one thing that remains certain, is that the Etihad Cargo of today is very different than the Etihad Cargo of just a few years ago. Aside from disposing of half its freighter fleet,  in recent weeks, three executives have left the company, including former vice president of cargo Justin Carr, former head of cargo commercial planning Rory Black and former senior manager of freighters commercial Roberto Gilardoni, reports AsiaCargoBuzz.

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