Etihad to fly A380 superjumbo with luxury 'Residence' on Sydney route

Etihad Airways will launch A380 services on the Sydney-Abu Dhabi route from June 1 next year, in a move that will boost its capacity to Australia.

It will also allow the Abu Dhabi based carrier to enter an exclusive club of airlines offering all A380 services on the Kangaroo route from Sydney, alongside Qantas Airways, Emirates and Singapore Airlines. But the move comes at a time of overcapacity in the market, with Flight Centre on Wednesday saying flights to Asia and Europe are particularly cheap for consumers.

On its A380, Etihad will offer economy class, business class, first class and its exclusive "The Residence", a suite including its own bedroom, sitting room, bathroom, shower and personal butler.

Etihad chief executive James Hogan said the new A380 services would offer travellers on the Sydney route an unrivalled level of luxury, comfort and service.

"The new living spaces on our A380s will raise inflight product and service standards to the highest level ever in commercial aviation and change forever travellers' expectations of air travel," he said. 

"Ours are not only the most advanced aircraft cabins in the industry, they meet all weight, range and cost targets at our desired seat count."

Earlier this year, Etihad opened a new lounge at Sydney Airport featuring a la carte dining. It also expects to deploy the A380 to the Melbourne-Abu Dhabi route from 2016, and has already announced plan for a direct Brisbane-Abu Dhabi service on a 787-9 from next year.

Etihad's daily A380 flight will replace a 777-300 flight. The other daily flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi will now use a 777-300 each day, instead of a mix between Etihad's A340 on four days of the week and Virgin Australia's 777-300 on three days a week. In total, the changes will add 4784 weekly seats in each direction.

Etihad has 10 A380s on order, the first of which will be deployed on the Abu Dhabi-London route from December.