Etihad Airways to redefine cabin experience

Etihad Airways, the United Arab Emirates’ national carrier, is to embark on a long-term design programme that will define its future cabin experience, Design Week can reveal.

The project will be undertaken by a consortium comprising product design groups Design Acumen and Factory Design, as well as Honour Branding and research group Promise, which together won an ‘extensive global pitch’ in November.

Design Acumen and Factory Design will develop the 3D elements, from the nose to the tail of the aeroplane, while Honour Branding will lead on brand strategy for the project, aided by Promise.

The contract is being billed as ‘the most sought-after in aviation’, as the paucity of longer-term briefs grows, according to an Honour Branding spokeswoman. ‘This is the project that everyone has been after. Etihad is a very successful and very wealthy airline, and that is reflected in its investment for the future,’ says the spokeswoman.

Etihad, which is thought to operate a fleet of about 38, last July made aviation history by placing what is believed to be the largest aircraft order ever at the Farnborough International Airshow. The carrier ordered a fleet of 100 Airbus and Boeing aeroplanes at a time when the aviation industry is suffering a slump due to fuel prices.

The Airbuses are expected to be delivered between 2011 and 2015, while the Boeings are due to be handed over by 2015. The critical path – or development schedule – of the cabin is governed by the delivery of the aircraft, according to aviation specialists. It is thought the new fleet was the stimulus for this latest project.

Etihad commissioned Landor Associates – which executed the first aeroplane interiors fit-out, now five years old – to review its brand and service proposition almost two years ago (DW 14 June 2007).

The consultancy is understood to have developed brand positioning, identity, livery and lounge environment, but it was never implemented, because of disagreements at client board level. Landor was no longer working with Etihad last year.

Etihad Airways Design History:

2007 – Landor Associates undertakes wholesale review

2008 – Unveils airport lounge and retail design programme, designed by Above Consultancy (DW 27 February 2008)

2009 – To develop passenger and cabin experience

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