By Claire Ferris-Lay
State-backed carrier says move will equate to fuel savings worth $170,000 per aircraft
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways plans to upgrade more than half of the engines in its A330 fleet over the next two years as it looks to boost fuel efficiency, amid delays to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.
The carrier, which has 35 Dreamliners on order, said fifteen of its fleet would be upgraded with Trent 700 engines, in a move that will reduce its carbon footprint by more than 10,000 tonnes per year and save over one million gallons of fuel on completion.
“This means less fuel burn which at current fuel prices should equate to fuel savings of approximately $170,000 per aircraft equivalent to $2.6m per annum for the retrofitted A330 fleet,” chief operations officer Richard Hill said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
The state-backed carrier is ramping up its fleet as it strives to win passengers from regional airline’s Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways.
The airline has 57 wide-body planes, with 103 jets due for delivery in the coming decade, including 10 A380s, 25 Airbus A350s and 35 Boeing 787s.
The engine upgrade is likely a response to the delivery delay of Boeing’s fuel-efficient 787s, UK-based aviation analyst Saj Ahmad told Arabian Business.
“[Most] likely it’s aimed at reducing fuel burn and gain greater operational efficiency aboard its A330s until its fuel efficient 787s and A350s arrive. It’s a smart move and shows that the airline is ready to keep a hold of its A330s in the wake of delays to the likes of the 787,” he said.
“As fuel costs continue to rise, any performance enhancement that cuts fuel bills will be seen as an incentive to invest in and this is likely what is driving Etihad’s announcement too,” he added.
Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan said last month the aviation industry had become the “whipping boy” for environmental issues, in response to plans by the European Union to curb carbon emissions from airlines from 2012.
Airlines will face fines of up to €100 for every tonne of carbon dioxide they emit above the limit, in a bid to cut pollution by five percent through 2020.
Etihad said Oct 5 it had seen a 39 increase in its third-quarter profits as it grew its network and increased traffic. Revenues rose to $1.1bn in the quarter compared with $785m in the same period last year, the airline said.
Etihad reiterated that it remains on track to break-even this year but did not disclose its quarterly loss.