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Etihad Taking the Lead on Creating Wireless Economy Cabin

As part of a multi-year transformation, the airline is bolstering its economy service with new seat designs, dining concepts and entertainment possibilities

Etihad Airways is transforming its economy class with a cabin upgrade and refurbishment of 23 narrow-body Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft.

The retrofit effort includes new personalized wireless streaming entertainment that works with smartphone and tablet devices. The airline is also introducing a new and improved Economy dining concept on all its flights as part of a wider enhancement program – all scheduled for completion in August.

Etihad introduced the new developments at Arabian Travel Market this week inside a greater campaign, “Go Your Own Way,” which uses the Fleetwood Mac’s classic as a theme.

“Etihad has always been a challenger brand, shaping the future of travel as the market constantly changes. We are bringing the leadership and innovation to Economy travel which we have long established in our award-winning Business, First and The Residence cabins,” noted Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group. “We are empowering our guests with more control of their travel experiences, through onboard digital transformation, improved choice and redesigned cabins and products.”

Economy Revisited

Etihad is progressively upgrading the Economy cabins of its narrow-body fleet of Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft. These are used mainly on short-haul regional services, and further afield to 38 Etihad gateways within five hours of flight from Abu Dhabi. The airline is installing modern and refreshed cabins featuring ergonomically designed seats by UK based Acro. The next-generation seats, which will maintain comfortable ‘living space’ in the seat area, and provide increased knee room, are cleverly designed around the guest’s digital devices with fast-charging USB points and an adjustable phone and tablet holder.

The first stage of enhancements to the Economy experience began in 2017 with new seating options such as Neighbor-Free Seats, Economy Space, and Preferred Seats introduced on the wide-body fleet.

Watch on Wireless

Guests on narrow-body aircraft will be able to simply log on and connect via browser to wirelessly stream more than 300 hours of inflight entertainment through Etihad’s onboard Panasonic eXW system directly to their own devices. To view a wider range of exciting entertainment programming, including more Hollywood blockbusters, international movies, and premium TV programming such as HBO and Universal shows, guests can simply download the new E-BOX STREAM app prior to travel.

Inflight entertainment via personal seat back screens will remain standard in the Economy cabins on the airline’s fleet of wide-body Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

Dine Your Own Way

Etihad has launched a redesigned and enhanced complimentary dining concept on all its flights. On journeys of over three hours, the main course of the core complimentary dining service is now a larger, contemporary bistro-style meal which is higher in quality, with a focus on fresh seasonal ingredients and more destination focused choices. A new base plate design reflects the heritage of Abu Dhabi and is made using recycled materials. New cutlery is 85 per cent lighter, reducing aircraft weight and fuel burn. Each year, the airline says it will also remove 27 million plastic lids, and other containers, supporting its drive towards greater sustainability and to reduce the use of single-use plastics by 80 per cent by 2022.

As part of the new dining sequence, dessert items will be served separately with the after-meal coffee and tea service, reducing clutter on the tray during the main meal. On shorter flights, dessert will be served with the main meal.

In addition, the significantly expanded ‘Sweet or Salty’ retail menu complements the core dining service with offerings including a Tapas box, hot dishes, and premium sweet and savory snacks, all available for purchase. Etihad is also refreshing soft products such as blankets, pillows and headrest covers to further enhance inflight comfort and ambience.

As recently as March Etihad reported a lossof just under US$1.3 billion for its core airline operations last year. The carrier continues a five-year transformation program that is consolidating routes and removing premium chauffeur drive services at international destinations and outsourcing operations at selected lounges.