Etihad’s CEO Calls Out Planemakers For Aircraft Delivery Delays

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Summary

  • Etihad Airways CEO said that he was frustrated with aircraft delivery delays from Airbus and Boeing.
  • Still, he was happy with the aircraft performance, including the newly delivered Boeing 787s.
  • The airline ended 2023 by strengthening its profit compared to 2022.

Antonoaldo Neves, the chief executive officer (CEO), has expressed frustration with Airbus and Boeing, as both manufacturers have pushed back their scheduled aircraft deliveries to the airline. However, Neves was still content with both plane makers’ aircraft performance, including the Boeing 787.

Eight-month delays for Boeing 787s

Speaking to the United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based The National, the airline’s CEO remarked that Etihad Airways recently took delivery of three Boeing 787-9 aircraft last month, namely A6-BNG, A6-BNF, and A6-BNE, which Boeing delivered on February 16 and the two latter aircraft on February 21, respectively. The three aircraft were eight months late.

All three aircraft operated their first flights in 2023. ch-aviation data showed that A6-BNG, A6-BNF, and A6-BNE flew for the first time on November 8, March 11, and August 25, 2023, several months before they were finally delivered to Etihad Airways.

Nevertheless, Neves emphasized that the 787s are performing very well, but the airline was still unhappy with the delays, which have continued mounting. According to the executive, Airbus is also having issues delivering aircraft to Etihad Airways on time. The carrier’s CEO stated that the airline’s biggest concern is aircraft availability.

Barely growing fleet

According to ch-aviation, the airline has only taken delivery of seven aircraft in the past four years. In 2020, Etihad Airways grew its fleet by three aircraft, namely one Airbus A350-1000 and two Boeing 787-10s, and after not taking delivery of any jets between 2021 and 2022, took its first post-pandemic aircraft, a 787-10, in 2023. As mentioned above, Boeing delivered three 787-9s in February.

An Etihad Airbus A380 on the apron at London Heathrow Airport.

Photo: EQRoy | Shutterstock

As a result, 2024 was the only year since 2019 that Etihad Airways’ fleet grew, with the airline ending 2019 with 127 aircraft. Now, the carrier operates 99 aircraft, nine of which are inactive. Out of the nine stored aircraft, six are Airbus A380s.

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Strengthening profitability

On the same day as Neves spoke with the local media outlet, Etihad Airways announced its financial results. The airline said that it ended 2023 with revenues of AED20.2 billion ($5.4 billion) and operating results of AED1.4 billion ($381.1 million), resulting in a net profit of AED525 million ($142.9 million).

Speaking about the results, the CEO of the airline said that despite the strong results in 2023, Etihad Airways’ goal for the near-term future is to strengthen its business further as it continues with its growth strategy, pursuing further margin improvement opportunities.

“Looking forward, we will continue to deliver on the mandate of our shareholder, which is to be a financially viable airline delivering extraordinary customer experiences.”

An Etihad Airbus A380 parked at an airport

Photo: First Class Photography | Shutterstock

The airline has 95 aircraft on order, split between 20 Airbus A321neo, 15 A350-1000, seven A350F, eight 777-8, 17 777-9, eight 787-9, and 20 787-10s. Similarly to Neves, Tim Clark, the President of Emirates, has expressed concerns about Boeing’s ability to deliver aircraft on time. Clark specifically said that Emirates could take delivery of its first 777X aircraft only in 2026.

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This would mean that Boeing would deliver the first 777X six years after the initially planned delivery date.



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