Etihad has all but admitted at Farnborough today, its Cargo operations days are nearly over.
The relatively recently acquired fleet of A330F’s all now in storage, are said to be on the way to DHL. Only four 777F’s are operating for the airlines’ cargo arm and a fifth is permanently leased to Emirates. A sixth 777F is due to be delivered in October but Etihad are said to be negotiating their way out of the order.
Apparently decisions haven’t been set in stone, but if the airline can find a way to dispose of the 777F’s it almost certainly will.
The probloem for Etihad is that its only operating three of the four 777F’s -one is operating on humanitarian business only as part of the Year of Zayed initiative.
Customers are worried that their bookings will be terminated – especially with the current cargo capacity crunch and end of year peak approaching. Many cargo analysts think Etihad doesn’t really know what it’s doing, that it needs the revenues and will keep the 777F’s just to maintain a nominal support for the belly cargo operations of the main airline.
Some are expecting the entire cargo business to be handed to Emirates – allowing Etihad to keep its customers but give the operational side up in favour of its passenger business exclusively.
Either way, everyone acknowledges change is coming.