Abu Dhabi airline Etihad Airways has unveiled a new economy class programme with changed seats and modified entertainment and catering options.
The retrofit programme, which includes new personalised wireless streaming entertainment to smartphone and tablet devices, will remove entertainment screens from its Airbus A320 narrow-body fleet and is scheduled for completion in August this year. However, inflight entertainment via personal seatback screens will remain standard in the Economy cabins on the airline’s fleet of wide-body Airbus and Boeing aircraft.
The removal of screens would save the airline 18 tonnes in weight a year. The weight reduction will mean aircraft use less fuel, a major operating cost for all carriers.
The A320s are mainly used on short-haul regional flights but also to cities within five hours’ flying of Abu Dhabi, Etihad said at the Arabian Travel Market.
Tony Douglas, group chief executive officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said as a leading full-service airline, Etihad is adapting to meet the specific needs and requirements of all travellers, providing more of what they really want to enjoy inflight.
The airline said after the retrofit, guests on narrow-body aircraft would be able to simply log on and connect via browser to wirelessly stream more than 300 hours of free inflight entertainment through Etihad’s onboard Panasonic eXW system directly to their own devices.
The airline is also introducing a new and improved Economy dining concept on all its flights as part of a wider programme of enhancements to its inflight catering.
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, the airline said.
New cutlery is 85 per cent lighter, reducing aircraft weight and fuel burn. Each year, the airline 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.