Etihad's brand new Airbus A350 aircraft will be arriving in India soon. In addition, the first Airbus widebody to enter service, A6-XWB, will depart Abu Dhabi as EY206 at 22:05 today for its inaugural Mumbai rotation. It will be viewed in Istanbul before that, having returned from Paris this morning.
These short haul flights, on the other hand, are merely proving grounds. Over the following two weeks, Etihad plans to fly it to more short-to-medium-range locations before deploying it to its permanent missions. Etihad plans to put the A350 through its paces in major US markets, due to large capacity and capable range. However, as Etihad CEO Tony Douglas indicated in Paris this week, the A350 will return to India on a frequent basis in between its extremely lengthy flights to the United States.
Douglas spoke on the planned routes for the Airbus aircraft during a press conference following the A350's debut flight from Abu Dhabi to Charles de Gaulle. He stated, “When we put this into regular service in the summer of this year - the aircraft will be in regular service, but it’ll be on shorter haul as we go up the learning curve - the regular service will be North America from Abu Dhabi. So, you will probably see an A350 operated into Chicago, into New York. Back into Abu Dhabi. The shorter leg will be into the Indian subcontinent, so to Mumbai and to Delhi and then back again.”