May 11 - 17, 2009

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has redefined luxury air travel even further following the unveiling of its new first class cabin suite at this year's Arabian Travel Market (ATM) in Dubai.

The new first class cabin contains 12 individual suites, which have been designed to provide first class customers with more privacy, greater comfort and increased storage.

The highlight of the US $70 million (Dh 257 million) first class revamp is an extra-large seat that extends to a fully-flat bed, 80.5 inches in length, which is equipped with built-in massager, lumbar support and adjustable headrest, as well as power sockets for a laptop, 'Pod and other electronic devices.

Each private suite is accessed by its own sliding door and includes a personal wardrobe and mini bar, as well as 23" wide-screen LCD screen which features more than 600 hours of 'on demand' entertainment. Spacious stowage compartments are built into and around the seat.

Meals are served on an extra large wood finished table. Furthermore, a middle seat divider can be lowered to allow a dining space for up to four people.

The first class cabin also features a large and luxurious changing room with a full length mirror, new style wash basin and leather fold-down seat to allow passengers to freshen up and change after take-off and prior to landing.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways' chief executive, said: "Competition for premium customers remains intense and during the last 12 months a number of airlines have unveiled significant enhancements to their first class cabins, with others deciding to remove the cabin completely from their aircraft.

"A downturn is exactly the time when an airline needs to demonstrate its commitment to the very highest standards of service excellence. The economic turbulence that the aviation industry is currently experiencing will give way to calmer times, and when it does our investment and product innovation will ensure that we have not simply remained competitive, but that we are the market leader.

"With this in mind, we feel the time is right for us to raise the bar and we believe that our new first class cabin, together with the enhancements we have already made to our first class service, re-establishes our position as market leader in terms of luxury air travel."

Etihad Airways' chairman His Highness Dr Sheikh Ahmed bin Saif Al Nahyan, added: "Etihad Airways has always built its success on the back of a strong confidence in Abu Dhabi and its future. Our investment demonstrates our continued commitment to the customer and to provide the very highest standards of service excellence."

The new first class cabin has been developed following extensive global customer research, including input from many of Etihad's most frequent flyers.

The cabin interior was created by craftsmen from some of the world's top designers, including luxury leather upholstered by world-renowned Poltrona Frau, which also provides interiors for Ferrari cars. The new-look first class also includes new luxurious soft furnishings and designer amenity kits.

Key features of the new first class cabin include:

* 82 inch long private suite with a 80.5 inches fully flat bed, with bed width of 29.75 inches

* Each suite with Arabic styled sliding privacy doors

* 23 inch personal TV/video screen, with in-flight entertainment system that allows customers to pause, stop, fast-forward or rewind up to 600 hours of films, TV and radio programmes, and play games

* Personal mini bar

* Illuminated wardrobe with a personal mirror

* In-seat massager, lumbar support and adjustable headrest

* Spacious compartment areas where customers can stow their belongings

* Poltrona Frau leather upholstery

* Extra large (24 inches by 25 inches) wood finished meal table

* In-seat power sockets for PCs, 'Pod connector, USB ports, Ethernet port and audio jack

* Luxury changing room with full length mirror, raised wash basin and leather fold-down seat

* Luxurious soft furnishings and designer amenity kits

Mr Hogan added: "Our first class customers will experience a luxury never found before on any commercial aircraft. Recent global awards, such as Skytrax, show that Etihad's business class cabin is considered by air travellers to be the best in the world and our target now is to ensure our first class cabin is also acknowledged to be the new benchmark in luxury air travel."

The first aircraft with the new first class cabin - a brand new Airbus A340-600 - is due to enter service at the end of August 2009. The full roll-out of the new first class suites in the airline's fleet is expected to be completed by the end of 2010.

Etihad is also upgrading its business and economy class cabins, including improvements to the seats and the on-demand in-flight entertainment system.