Abu Dhabi airline Etihad Airways plans to introduce its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on its Barcelona route from February 22, 2019.
The Dreamliner will replace the two-class Airbus A330-200 that currently operates the five-times weekly route – launched in November.
Deploying the Dreamliner – configured with 299 seats including 28 in business and 271 in economy – will increase capacity by six seats in business and 31 in economy in each direction, and an increase in belly-hold cargo capacity of four tonnes.
The deployment of the larger aircraft has been timed to coincide with the Mobile World Conference taking place in Barcelona from February 25-28, during which Etihad will provide daily flights, a statement said.
Flight EY49 will depart Abu Dhabi at 2.20am and arrive in Barcelona at 7.15am. The return flight EY50 will depart from the Spanish city at 10.10am, arriving in the UAE capital at 8pm.
Etihad will increase frequency to a permanent daily operation from March 31.
Robin Kamark, Etihad Aviation Group CCO, said: “We launched flights to Barcelona just last month and forward passenger and cargo demand on the route from Abu Dhabi, and beyond, has encouraged us to accelerate the deployment of the larger 787 on this popular service.
“Together with Madrid, also operated by the 787-9 Dreamliner, the move will guarantee product consistency and more convenient travel options for our customers travelling to and from Spain.”
Etihad operates a codeshare partnership with Air Europa allowing passengers to transfer with the Spanish airline’s services between Barcelona and Madrid. the airline also codeshares with Air Europa beyond Madrid to 19 cities in Europe, South America, Mexico and the Caribbean.
The Abu Dhabi airline has been facing issues in Europe in recent weeks, with German airline Air Berlin’s insolvency administrator suing the carrier for damages of up EUR2bn ($2.26bn).
The administrator said previously that Etihad – which formerly owned Air Berlin – did not meet its financial obligations towards the struggling German airline.
However, Etihad said the claim was “without merit” and vowed to defend itself in court.