Category Archives: Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways and Gulf Air sign codeshare agreement, strengthening ties between the carriers

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, and Gulf Air, the national airline of the Kingdom of Bahrain, have signed a codeshare partnership, for travel commencing with the summer schedule.

  • Codeshare operations to begin with the summer schedule between Abu Dhabi and Bahrain and onwards from both hubs
  • Etihad will place its ‘EY’ code on 12 Gulf Air routes across the Gulf region, North Africa, Europe and key destinations in Pakistan
  • Gulf Air will place its ‘GF’ code on 10 Etihad routes including destinations in Africa, Australia, Indonesia and the USA

The announcement follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two carriers at the Bahrain International Airshow in November last year and will further strengthen the strong ties between the two countries and carriers.

The agreement will see Etihad place its ‘EY’ code on Gulf Air flights from Bahrain to and from Abu Dhabi, Baghdad, Casablanca, Dhaka, Faisalabad, Larnaca, Malaga, Multan, Najaf, Peshawar, Sailkot and Tbilisi.

Gulf Air will place its ‘GF’ code on Etihad flights from Abu Dhabi to and from Bahrain, Brisbane, Chicago O’Hare, Jakarta, Lagos, Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York JFK, Sydney and Washington.

Guests who are travelling to the USA with Etihad will be able to enjoy the preclearance facility offered at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility at Terminal 3 in Abu Dhabi Airport is a purpose-built facility that allows US bound passengers to process all immigration, customs and agriculture inspections in Abu Dhabi before they depart. On arrival in the US, guests arrive as domestic passengers, speeding up the arrival process and making onward connections more seamless.

The announcement was made at a signing ceremony held at Etihad Airways Headquarters in Abu Dhabi, attended by Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group, and Krešimir Kučko, Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Air.

In addition to the codeshare signing, both Etihad Guest and Gulf Air Falconflyer loyalty programs are exploring ways to offer earn and burn opportunities.

Gulf Air currently operates four return daily flights between Bahrain and Abu Dhabi while Etihad currently operates three return daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Bahrain.

Etihad Airways aircraft slide show:

Below Copyright Photo: Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A6-BLN (msn 39659) PAE (Nick Dean). Image: 938115.

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A6-BLN (msn 39659) PAE (Nick Dean). Image: 938115.

Gulf Air aircraft slide show:

Below Copyright Photo: Gulf Air Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A9C-FB (msn 39997) LHR (Wingnut). Image: 945083.

Gulf Air Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A9C-FB (msn 39997) LHR (Wingnut). Image: 945083.

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Etihad Airways posts a loss of $1.28 billion in 2018

"Formula 1 - 2018 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix"

Etihad Airways has announced an improvement in core operating performance of 15% in 2018, 7% higher than forecast, on revenues of US$5.86 billion (2017: US$6.0 billion). The airline reported a loss of US$1.28 billion for the year (2017: US$ -1.52 billion). 

  • 15% improvement in core operating performance, on revenues of US$ 5.86 billion
  • 4% increase in passenger yields, driven by capacity discipline, network and fleet optimisation, and growing market share in premium and point-to-point markets
  • 3% reduction in unit costs, despite 31%higher fuel prices
  • 17.8 million passengers and 682,100 leg tonnes of cargo carried

Since commencing its five-year transformation program in 2017, the airline has improved its core operating performance by 34% despite challenging market conditions and effects of an increase in fuel prices.

Etihad carried 17.8 million passengers in 2018 (2017: 18.6m), with a 76.4% seat factor (2017: 78.5%) and a decrease in passenger capacity (Available Seat Kilometres (ASK)) of 4% (from 115.0 billion to 110.3 billion).

The airline increased yields by 4%, largely driven by capacity discipline, network and fleet optimisation and growing market share in premium and point-to-point markets. Passenger revenues remained steady at US$ 5.0 billion.

Etihad Cargo recorded a strong performance for the year largely due to a lower cost base, a programme of efficiency improvements including the consolidation of the freighter fleet around the Boeing 777F, and a refreshed network focusing on core trade lanes leveraging Abu Dhabi’s geographical position to maximise freighter to belly-hold flows.

Cargo revenue for the year was US$ 827 million (2017: US$ 877m) with 682,100 leg tonnes carried (2017: 853,300 tonnes). Cargo Freight Tonne Kilometres (FTK) decreased by 21% (from 4.3 billion to 3.4 billion), with a 15.5% increase in yields.

The airline significantly reduced total costs by US$ 416 million to US$ 6.9 billion (2017: US$ 7.3bn). Direct operating costs were reduced by US$ 226 million (3.6%) despite ongoing fuel price volatility. Administration and general expenses declined by US$ 190 million (19%), mainly driven by lower indirect manpower and other administration costs.

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Aviation Group, said: “In 2018, we continued to forge ahead with our transformation journey by streamlining our cost base, improving our cash-flow and strengthening our balance sheet.

“Our transformation is instilling a renewed sense of confidence in our customers, our partners and our people. As a major enabler of commerce and tourism to and from Abu Dhabi, we are intrinsically linked to the continued success of the emirate.”

Operational Highlights

During 2018, Etihad Airways took delivery of eight new aircraft including three Boeing 787-9s, four Boeing 787-10s and one Boeing 777-200 freighter. The airline’s fleet count at year end was 106, with an average age of only 5.7 years.

Following negotiations with Airbus and Boeing, revisions to Etihad’s forward fleet commitments were announced on 14 February 2019. Under these agreements, the airline will take delivery of five Airbus A350-1000, 26 Airbus A321neo and six Boeing 777-9 aircraft in the coming years.

Etihad added Baku and Barcelona to its global network in 2018. Both routes are outperforming forecasts. Frequencies were increased to several destinations including Toronto, increasing weekly services from three to five, double-daily flights to Amman and Rome, and 11 weekly flights to Male, Maldives. Additionally, Etihad introduced its 787-9 on flights to Cairo, Casablanca, Jeddah, Rabat, Geneva, Kuala Lumpur and Rome. In October 2018, the airline introduced the Airbus A380 on a second daily flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle. New 787-10 aircraft were introduced on daily flights to Jeddah, Beijing, Nagoya and Seoul Incheon. A seasonal frequency increase using the 787-9 was introduced to London Heathrow, boosting daily services to four during the busy festive season.

Etihad recently announced the addition of the 787-10 on its Shanghai service and the 787-9 on flights to Chengdu, Hong Kong and Barcelona in 2019. Etihad will also add the Airbus A380 on its daily rotation to Seoul Incheon from 1 July, capitalising on this route’s strong business and leisure demand.

A number of unprofitable routes were discontinued in 2018 including Tehran, Jaipur, Entebbe, Dallas / Fort Worth, Ho Chi Minh City, Dhaka, Dar es Salaam, Edinburgh and Perth.

The airline continued to forge important partnerships with other airlines and transport companies last year, including Saudia, Azerbaijan Airlines, Swiss, and Accesrail, adding to a growing list of 55 codeshare partners. Etihad has expanded its reach to more than 400 destinations worldwide by placing its EY code on 18,513 weekly flights beyond its own network.

On-time performance was 82% for flight departures and 84% for arrivals in 2018, making Etihad among the most reliable and punctual airlines in the world. Across its network, the airline completed 99.7% of scheduled flights.

Customer Proposition

Etihad continues to position itself as an airline of choices, embedding its ‘Choose Well’ brand in every part of the customer experience. The airline now provides greater levels of personalisation, with a particular focus on its inflight retail offering, unbundling of services and fares, and installation of new seating products – including a new Economy Space zone on much of its widebody fleet.

In the second quarter of 2019, smarter ergonomic seating and streaming technology will be introduced on the short-haul Airbus A320 and A321 fleets. The airline continues to refine its award-winning Business and First Class services across its widebody fleet, and The Residence on its Airbus A380s.

“Etihad remains a strong global aviation brand and a true representative of Abu Dhabi around the world. We are committed to developing commercially beneficial partnerships at home and overseas, creating a multicultural workplace which is an exemplar of inclusion, gender equality and innovation. This is particularly important in the UAE’s Year of Tolerance,” continued Mr. Douglas.

People and Organisational Development

Etihad announced a new streamlined organisational structure in July 2018, providing greater focus on its customers and its transformation.

Etihad also continued its development of young UAE talent. By the end of 2018 it employed 2,525 Emiratis, representing 12% of the total 21,855-strong Etihad Aviation Group workforce.

Mr. Douglas added: “At only 15 years old, Etihad is maturing as an acclaimed international airline, seizing opportunities and heading into the future as a pioneering leader. We will continue to offer superior services to every traveller while growing our global footprint, embracing technology, boosting revenues, and driving efficiencies and commercial excellence across the entire organisation. The benefits of these actions will be enjoyed by our customers and our people.”

2018 results

2018

2017

Passenger Revenue (US$ billion)

5.0

5.0

Cargo Revenue (US$ million)

827

877

Total revenue (US$ billion)

5.9

6.0

Core airline profit (loss) (US$ billion)

(1.28)

(1.52)

Total passengers (million)

17.8

18.6

Available seat kilometres (billion)

110.3

115.0

Seat factor (%)

76.4

78.5

Number of aircraft

106

115

Cargo tonnage (leg tonnes ‘000)

682.1

853.3

Top Copyright Photo: Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A6-BLV (msn 39676) (Formula 1 – 2018 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix) ZRH (Rolf Wallner). Image: 945301.

Etihad Airways aircraft slide show:

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Etihad Airways to introduce Boeing 787 Dreamliners to Rome and Frankfurt

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A6-BLO (msn 39660) AMS (Ton Jochems). Image: 945941.

From June 1, 2019, Etihad Airways will introduce a new two-class Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, the largest variant of the technologically advanced aircraft, on its scheduled daily morning service from Abu Dhabi to Rome, complementing the second overnight 777-300ER departure. On July 1, the airline will introduce the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on its two daily services to Frankfurt.

  • Latest 787-10 on morning service to Rome
  • Frankfurt double daily service to go all-Dreamliner on the 787-9
  • Etihad Dreamliners feature industry-leading, award-winning cabins

The two-class 787-9 features Etihad Airways’ next-generation Business and Economy Class cabins, configured with 299 seats – 28 Business Studios and 271 Economy Smart Seats. The 336-seat 787-10 features 32 Business Studios and 304 Economy Smart Seats.

 

 

Boeing 787-10 / 777-300ER schedule to Rome, effective June 1, 2019

Flight

Origin

Departs

Destn

Arrives

Freq

Aircraft

EY 85

Abu Dhabi

02:15

Rome

06:20

Daily

Boeing 777-300ER

EY 86

Rome

11:00

Abu Dhabi

19:05

Daily

Boeing 777-300ER

EY 83

Abu Dhabi

08:50

Rome

13:00

Daily

Boeing 787-10

EY 84

Rome

22:00

Abu Dhabi

06:05+1

Daily

Boeing 787-10

Boeing 787-9 schedule to Frankfurt, effective July 1, 2019

Flight

Origin

Departs

Destn

Arrives

Freq

Aircraft

EY 1

Abu Dhabi

02:10

Frank
furt

06:45

Daily

Boeing 787-9

EY 2

Frank
furt

11:20

Abu Dhabi

19:45

Daily

Boeing 787-9

EY 7

Abu Dhabi

09:35

Frank
furt

14:20

Daily

Boeing 787-9

EY 8

Frank
furt

21:45

Abu Dhabi

06:00+1

Daily

Boeing 787-9

Notes: All departures and arrivals are listed in local time.

Top Copyright Photo: Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A6-BLO (msn 39660) AMS (Ton Jochems). Image: 945941.

Etihad Airways aircraft slide show:

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Etihad Airways to deploy the Boeing 787 on all routes to China, reduces aircraft on order, will retire the last Airbus A330-300

Etihad Airways will introduce the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on its daily service from Abu Dhabi to Chengdu, effective July 1, 2019, replacing the Airbus A330-200 currently operating the route. Also from July 1, the airlines’ daily service from Abu Dhabi to Shanghai will be upgraded from the 787-9 to the larger 787-10 Dreamliner.

  • Chengdu to be served daily with Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from July 1, 2019
  • Shanghai to be upgraded to larger 787-10 Dreamliner from July 1, 2019

Once the changes take effect, the airline will fly all 28 weekly services to China’s four main gateways – Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hong Kong – with the next generation Dreamliner aircraft.

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A6-BLU (msn 39675) AMS (Ton Jochems). Image: 945709.

Above Copyright Photo: Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A6-BLU (msn 39675) AMS (Ton Jochems). Image: 945709.

The 787-9 service to Chengdu will feature Etihad Airways’ next-generation Business and Economy cabins, configured with 299 seats – 28 Business Studios and 271 Economy Smart Seats. The upgrade of aircraft will also see an increase in belly-hold cargo capacity of four tonnes.

The 787-10 service to Shanghai will be configured with 336 seats – 32 Business Studios and 304 Economy Smart. Belly-hold cargo capacity will be increased by two and a half tonnes.

Etihad Airways recently celebrated 10 years of direct flights between Abu Dhabi and China, the capital-capital airlink was launched in 2008. Since 2008, the airline has carried over four and a half million passengers between Abu Dhabi and China.

Timetables: Abu Dhabi – China schedules

Flight

Origin

Departs

Desti

Arrives

Freq

Aircraft

EY 818

Abu Dhabi

08:15

Cheng
du

19:40

Daily*

Boeing 787-9

EY 811

Cheng
du

21:00

Abu Dhabi

00:25

Daily*

Boeing 787-9

Note: All departures and arrivals are listed in local time. *Daily operation during summer timetable, three weekly flights during winter timetable.

Flight

Origin

Departs

Desti

Arrives

Freq

Aircraft

EY 862

Abu Dhabi

21:45

Shang
hai

10:35

Daily

Boeing 787-10

EY 867

Shang
hai

00:45

Abu Dhabi

05:55

Daily

Boeing 787-10

Note: All departures and arrivals are listed in local time. Shanghai to be upgraded to 787-10 from July 1, 2019. Departure of 1st 787-10 from Shanghai will be on July 3, 2019.

Flight

Origin

Departs

Desti

Arrives

Freq

Aircraft

EY 888

Abu Dhabi

21:30

Beijing

08:50

Daily

Boeing 787-10

EY 889

Beijing

01:25

Abu Dhabi

06:10

Daily

Boeing 787-10

Note: All departures and arrivals are listed in local time. Beijing upgraded to 787-10 Dreamliner on Jan 1, 2019.

Flight

Origin

Departs

Desti

Arrives

Freq

Aircraft

EY 834

Abu Dhabi

22:05

Hong Kong

10:05

Daily

Boeing 787-9

EY 833

Hong Kong

19:45

Abu Dhabi

00:05

Daily

Boeing 787-9

Note: All departures and arrivals are listed in local time. Hong Kong to be served by 787-9 Dreamliner from March 31, 2019. Departure of 1st 787-9 from Hong Kong will be on April 1, 2019.

In other news, the airline is also reducing its aircraft on order. In a statement, the airline stated it will take delivery of five Airbus A350-1000s and 26 A321neos plus six Boeing 777-9s “over the coming years” (no specific delivery dates).

The carrier stated it will also continue to take delivery of new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, but did specify the number. Etihad has so far received 28 of 71 Dreamliners it has on order.

With these fleet changes, Etihad Airways will also retire its last three remaining Airbus A330-300s in March 2019.

Below Copyright Photo: Etihad Airways Airbus A330-343 A6-AFF (msn 1245) (Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2014) ZRH (Rolf Wallner). Image: 927297.

Last three A330-300s to be retired in March 2019

Etihad Airways aircraft slide show:

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Etihad Airways to introduce the Airbus A380 on daily Seoul service

Etihad Airways Airbus A380-861 A6-APG (msn 198) LHR (Greenwing). Image: 945661.

Effective July 1, 2019, Etihad Airways will operate the Airbus A380 on its daily service linking Abu Dhabi and Seoul. The South Korean capital’s Incheon airport now joins London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, New York JFK and Sydney as a destination served by the airline’s award-winning aircraft.

Etihad Airways’ 486-seat A380 will provide customers on the route with new inflight experiences such as The Residence, a luxurious three-room cabin which can accommodate two guests in complete privacy, and nine private First Apartments. The double-decker aircraft also boasts 70 Business Studios and 405 Economy Smart Seats. This includes 80 Economy Space seats with a seat pitch of up to 36 inches.

The UAE and South Korea are major trade partners and the UAE is the largest importer of South Korean goods in the Middle East and Africa and the value of trade between the two countries is valued at approximately US$ 15 billion annually. It is estimated that over 200,000 Korean tourists now visit the country each year.

Flight schedule: Abu Dhabi – Seoul Incheon, effective July 1, 2019*:

Flight No.

Origin

Departs

Dest

Arrives

Freq

Aircraft

EY876

Abu Dhabi

22:05

Seoul

11:35 +1

Daily

Airbus A380

EY873

Seoul

01:00

Abu Dhabi

05:45

Daily

Airbus A380


Note
: All departures and arrivals are listed in local time.

*First A380 departure from Seoul effective July 3, 2019

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): Etihad Airways Airbus A380-861 A6-APG (msn 198) LHR (Greenwing). Image: 945661.

Etihad aircraft slide show:

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Etihad Airways looks back at 2018, will fly the 787 to Hong Kong

Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A6-BLN (msn 39659) ZRH (Andi Hiltl). Image: 938290.

Etihad Airways is looking back at its accomplishments in 2018:

In other news, Etihad Airways will introduce the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on its daily scheduled service from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong, effective March 31, 2019. The two-class aircraft will replace the Airbus A330-200 aircraft currently operating the route.

 

The new 787-9 Dreamliner service to Hong Kong will feature the airline’s next-generation Business and Economy cabins, configured with 299 seats – 28 Business Studios and 271 Economy Smart Seats –  a capacity increase of six seats in Business and 31 in Economy in each direction, and an increase in belly-hold cargo capacity of four tonnes.

Timetable

Boeing 787 schedule to Hong Kong effective March 31, 2019

Flight

Origin

Departs

Destination

Arrives

Frequency

Aircraft

EY 834

Abu Dhabi

22:05

Hong Kong

   10:05

Daily

Boeing 787-9

EY 833

Hong Kong

19:05

Abu Dhabi

23:25

Daily

Boeing 787-9

Notes: All departures and arrivals are listed in local time.

Top Copyright Photo (all others by the airline): Etihad Airways Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner A6-BLN (msn 39659) ZRH (Andi Hiltl). Image: 938290.

Etihad Airways aircraft slide show:

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UAE carriers fly a formation in Dubai to celebrate the legacy of Sheikh Zayed

Emirates, Etihad, flydubai, Air Arabia and Al Fursan took to the skies in unison today to celebrate the UAE’s 47th National Day, as well as commemorate the legacy and values of HH Sheikh Zayed. The late founding father of the UAE dedicated his life and leadership to unify and shape a better collective future for the nation, and today’s formation flight is a soaring display of unity as all four carriers showcase the UAE’s aviation success story to the nation and world.

The spectacular flypast – a world-first and a UAE civil aviation milestone – involved over 11 aircraft: a flydubai Boeing 737 MAX 8 (Zayed 1), an Air Arabia Airbus A320 (Zayed 2), an Etihad Airways Airbus A380 (Zayed 3) and an Emirates Airline Airbus A380 (Zayed 4), as well as seven Al Fursan aerobatic display jets from the UAE Air Force. All of the commercial aircraft within the formation were emblazoned with ‘Year of Zayed’ decals. This is also the first time this unique combination of aircraft types fly in formation.

The aircraft were proudly commanded by Captain Adrian Smith from flydubai, Captain Nadhem Al Hamad from Air Arabia, Captain Richard Dyson from Etihad Airways and Captain Abbas Shaban from Emirates Airline. The Al Fursan team was led by Lieutenant Colonel Nasser Al Obaidli.

Formation and flight path

The carefully choreographed ‘stair step’ aerial formation began this afternoon at 1300 hrs, when the aircraft took-off from Dubai World Central Al Maktoum International Airport. Once all of the aircraft established their holding positions with altitudes ranging from 2,000 feet to 5,000 feet with a 1,000 foot vertical separation, the formation commenced. Over the skies of Ras Al Khaimah, each aircraft adjusted its speed and turned to achieve a trail formation. The aircraft then descended into their positions and vertical separation was reduced to 300 feet.

 

Flying first in the ‘Year of Zayed’ formation was flydubai, cruising at an altitude of 1,000 feet and an airspeed of 210 knots, closely followed by Air Arabia, in line astern and stepped up at an altitude of 1,300 feet. Next came the Etihad Airbus A380 double-decker, trailing the first two aircraft  and flying at 1,600 feet, stepped up by the Emirates Airbus A380 flying at the highest altitude at 1,900 feet to make room for the seven Al Fursan jets set in an arrow formation ready to release their signature smoke trails in the colours of the UAE flag.

Together, the stunning UAE carrier formation flew with impressive precision across the coastline of the UAE, starting at Ras Al Khaimah, continuing on to Um Al Quwain and Ajman, and then passing landmarks including the Sharjah Corniche, Dubai’s Palm and World Islands with the Burj Khalifa skyline in the background, and finally crossing the Abu Dhabi Corniche and the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, where all aircraft then split and continued on to their respective airports for landing.

Executive remarks

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group, and Chairman of flydubai said: “His Highness Sheikh Zayed was a true pioneer and one of the most inspirational leaders of our time. It is fitting that on UAE National Day, such a spectacular aerial display be done to honour his legacy. This ground-breaking initiative showcases how unity and a shared vision can achieve outstanding results.  I am immensely proud of all of the teams across every airline, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, and all the organisations who came together to plan and execute today’s unprecedented flight formation which will go down as an extraordinary moment for UAE civil aviation.”

His Excellency Mohamed Mubarak Fadhel Al Mazrouei, Chairman of Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Today our nation celebrates the 47th National Day, a day we celebrate the achievement of the vision of our founding father His Highness Sheikh Zayed to unite the seven Emirates. In the Year of Zayed, we are very proud to witness this historic flight formation which resembles the vision set forth by our founding father. Our Emirati carriers flying across the seven Emirates in this formation represents the spirit of our union, and demonstrates the economic progress our nation and aviation sector achieved in less than half a century through connecting over a 100 million travellers annually to 500 destinations globally.”

Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer of Air Arabia said: “It gives us a great honour to be part of this remarkable formation display dedicated to the Year of Zayed and while celebrating the UAE’s National Day.  This unique flight formation display reflects the unity, leadership and the forward vision of the UAE. We thank all the airlines, Al Fursan and the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority for working together to achieve such a successful and first of its kind flight display that will now be added to the UAE’s pioneering journey in aviation.”

His Excellency Saif Mohammed Al Suwaidi, Director General of the GCAA said: “In this historical formation flight, The GCAA ensured that communication and coordination was carried out between all pertinent authorities and stake holders to ensure that flight details were established and the route flown would avoid all departure and arrival lanes, thereby guaranteeing uninterrupted routine airport operations. This fly past was continuously controlled by Air Traffic Control, tracked by surveillance radar and communicated by two-way radio communication for any advisory and instruction. In addition, the GCAA has further imposed certain requirements for assessment and approval of the entire fly past exercise which includes routing, separation, weather minima, aircraft limitation and trials so that no stone is left unturned.”

Precision planning and co-ordination

While the flawlessly executed aerial formation flight may appear to be a straightforward assignment, the mission was under planning for more than five months due to the complexity of the formation and the number of aircraft involved. With a primary focus on flight safety, the meticulous technical planning and co-ordination involved all four airlines and multiple regulatory stakeholders.

The success of the formation flight was made possible by the collaboration between the pilots and flight operation managers from each airline, the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), UAE Ministry of Defence, air traffic controllers, the Abu Dhabi Department of Transportation and Civil Aviation Authorities from other UAE emirates, amongst others.

All stakeholders worked together to identify suitable locations for the flight formation patterns, taking into account air traffic, areas overflown, route planning, visibility, and potential wind and weather conditions. The entire formation route was protected from any passing traffic within a Temporary Restricted Area controlled by the GCAA. Meetings were held to establish each airline’s position within the formation and precise visual reference points were drawn up so each aircraft could safely join and hold their plotted position. In addition, all pilots went through rigorous flight simulation exercises.

A rehearsal flight was done on November 8, 2018 to ensure that the formation positions worked appropriately with the Al Fursan air display team. The test-run ‘Year of Zayed’ formation also included two helicopters and an Aero L-39 Albatross chase plane from the Latvian based Baltic Bees aerobatic display team to film every detail and aspect of the formation.

The “Year of Zayed” is a tribute to HH Sheikh Zayed’s remarkable legacy which has left a lasting imprint on the UAE.  The inspirational leader created a vision of prosperity, determination and tolerance – attributes that remain strongly embedded in UAE culture and across all UAE aviation organisations.

All photos by the airlines.

Video: