Etihad Pulling Back First Class to Advance Business Class Plus

Business Class

Abu-Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has a reputation as a great airline to fly on but the years of red ink demanded some operational changes. The CEO has unveiled a new strategy to address the mounting losses by simplifying its options of different classes of service offered. The main takeaway is significantly decreasing its First Class cabin to focus on a more profitable Business Class Plus. According to Etihad’s CEO this isn’t the end of first class on the airline but it’s being limited and de-emphasized. They’ll still operate planes with a first class cabin on routes where there’s historic paid demand for the cabin, though we’re already seeing last minute aircraft swaps where it’s scheduled for planes that do not offer the product.

In an exclusive interview with SIMPLY FLYING Etihad’s CEO Tony Douglas explains the strategy to transform the airline from an upscale but loss-making operation into a much leaner beast, all without losing that traditional Etihad luxe touch. A simplification of the various cabin classes are among the changes in the pipeline.