Etihad Airways flies the flag for sky-high luxury with airborne ‘suites’


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The Independent Travel

For most people, first-class air travel represents the ultimate indulgence. But now one airline has raised the bar for on-board luxury.

The Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways has revealed details of its new airborne “residences” – 125sq ft hotel-style suites with a dedicated butler.

The apartments – on the upper deck of its new airliners – will feature a bedroom with a king-sized bed and a private bathroom. The butlers will all be trained by the Savoy Butler Academy in London.

Etihad describes the suites as “the world’s most luxurious living space in the air”.

The special luxury package is expected to cost three to four times as much as a normal first-class ticket – around £12,500 for a one-way ticket from Abu Dhabi to London.

The carrier announced the package as part of a broader rollout of new “cabin” deals for its long-haul jets, which allow passengers to buy rooms rather than seats on its flights.  It is the latest in a series of offers aimed at securing its reputation at the very top end of the market.

James Hogan, chief executive of Etihad, said he believed there was demand for such luxury deals. “This is a top-end market. There is demand here,” he said at the launch event in Abu Dhabi.

“Maybe European airlines don’t make money on first [class] but we do, and we wouldn’t have devised this product if we didn’t believe we could make a return.”

Etihad is one of three rapidly expanding, government-backed carriers based in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain (the others are Emirates and Gulf Air). Since  it began operating in 2003, Etihad has built a fleet of 96 planes, and it carried 11.5 million passengers last year.

The new features will be offered on its 10 new double-deck Airbus 380 aircraft, which will enter service in December. The upper decks will also contain business studios.

Etihad already offers perks including private chefs and in-flight nannies.