The Etihad A380 operates a daily service to Sydney; sadly the return flight is at night – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Having recently experienced Etihad’s outstanding first class apartment on the Airbus A380, I had high expectations of their business studio product. While I already had a chance to view the entire Etihad A380 during last year’s Dubai airshow, I was still excited to try out the product on a nice long flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi; the only downside of course being that the entire flight would be during the night.
The Etihad business studio really is flying reimagined and it is a product that exceeds some carriers’ first class products – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Check-in and all other departure formalities were completed with ease. It was nice to see that Etihad had recently opened a dedicated lounge in Sydney. While it might not be as grand and glamorous as Etihad’s New York JFK lounge, it is certainly a step above the Air New Zealand lounge which was previously used. Although slightly on the small side (particularly when the flight is full), the lounge does offer a few unique and welcome additions not often seen in business class lounges. This included the option of a la carte dining, with a rather extensive menu, as well as a well stocked bar and plentiful waitstaff to assist.
The Bombardier CSeries CS100 test aircraft on display at Dubai Airshow 2015 – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
I was fortunate enough to attend the Dubai Airshow this year which was held at Al Maktoum International Airport from November 8th to 12th. As part of the various events and substantial flying program, I was invited along with my friend Bernie to attend a press conference and aircraft tour of the new Bombardier CSeries which was present on the static display.
The CSeries has been the center of much media hype and excitement even though it has not always been smooth sailing for the company. Despite the various challenges facing Bombardier at the present time, all the staff were incredibly positive and excited to showcase their aircraft on its first debut in the Middle East. Following a rather spirited press conference where many questions were posed by local media with regards to the regulatory and political complications of selling the aircraft to Middle Eastern Airlines, it was time for the AvGeek’s favorite moment: the aircraft tour!
The aircraft on display at Dubai is used by Bombardier as a test-bed – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
At the time of the aircraft’s debut at the Dubai Airshow, Bombardier was in the final stages of receiving certification from Transport Canada; as such the aircraft on display was a test model without an official certificate of airworthiness. In practice this means that there are a few extra placards on the aircraft and not all equipment is fully operational, however the interior and exterior are identical to what it will be once it enters full scale production post certification.
The highlight of the show, the Etihad A380 – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Ever since I booked my trip to attend the Dubai Airshow, I had been quietly hoping that Etihad would bring their flagship A380 to the static display. This was, however, a long shot, as Etihad only has four A380s in service; to take one out of service for an airshow is a big ask. Emirates had confirmed sometime out that they would have an A380 on static display, as did Qatar Airways, but these two models did not excite me nearly as much as the Etihad A380.
Boarding the Etihad A380 for the media tour – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
I could barely contain my excitement, when on the first day of the airshow, Etihad confirmed their A380 would make an appearance the following day! As the aircraft was only scheduled to remain at Al Maktoum Airport for a few hours before returning to Abu Dhabi, it was my first priority to go see this aircraft.
We met with the PR staff at the Etihad chalet and they were more than willing to give us a tour of the aircraft, even driving to the display from the chalet in custom-branded golf carts — talk about a VIP experience.