One after the other Etihad has sent its brand new A350-1000’s not into service, but direct from Toulouse to a storage facility in Bordeaux just 90 miles away.
The airline is still in dire straights. Its investments around the world have collapsed loosing it billions. Darwin, Alitalia, AirBerlin and now JetAirways have all failed leaving Etihad nearly penniless.
JetAirways failure left it with another painful choice that’s costing it a great deal of operating cash. JetAirways London slots were leased from Etihad – and to keep them running and avoid loosing them, Etihad is having to fly additional services to London pretty much half empty if that, at a huge loss.
The airline is said not to have been able to afford pilots or crews for the five new aircraft, nor operate any training.
It’s operating margins are so thin at present, that on short routes its even removed seat-back screens (saving licence fees on content and weight) and started charging for drinks and food.
Add to that the capacity issues in the Middle East and Gulf and a sharp price war, and Etihad basically has no money for its new aircraft.
The aircraft are it seems likely to enter service in mid to late 2021, in a business and economy two class layout.
So far Airbus have agreed to hold off on taking final payment for the aircraft – it’s normally the final 50% payable on delivery for aircraft of this size, the rest is paid in instalments at points from first material orders.
Even so it leaves Etihad with around $600 million to find to take them in around 18 months.
It shows you how little money Etihad has that the normal practice is to take delivery and lease the aircraft out to another airline – but they couldn’t afford to do that and finding a willing user for such large aircraft is difficult.