Abu Dhabi: Etihad Airways and Engine Alliance have signed agreements worth up to $1.5 billion (Dh5.5 billion) for the purchase of GP7200 engines to power Etihad's fleet of 10 Airbus A380 aircraft and a long-term fleet management agreement for the maintenance, repair and overhaul of the engines, the airline announced yesterday.

"The GP7200 engines, provided by the Engine Alliance in this agreement, will offer significant fuel efficiencies and cost optimisation for Etihad's first Airbus A380s when they enter our fleet from 2014," said James Hogan, Etihad Airways chief executive officer in a statement released by Etihad.

"The operational, environmental and economic factors of the GP7200 engines are ideal for the A380 and these aircraft and engines will play a crucial part in Etihad's ambitious expansion plans over the coming years."

There are currently 19 GP7200-powered A380s in service and 109 more on order. Airline companies such as Emirates and Air France are among those currently operating the GP7200-powered A380 aircraft.

Other GP7200 customers include Korean Air, Air Austral and the International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC).

Strategic growth map

Saj Ahmad, UK-based aviation analyst with FBE (Fleet Buzz Editorial) Aerospace, told Gulf News that the agreements signal Etihad's commitment to the A380 and "their long-term strategic growth map which employs the giant airplane to transfer passengers in and out of its key Abu Dhabi hub."

"Just as rival Emirates uses the same engines, the GE/PW Engine Alliance will solidify their leading position in the GCC and further allow better long- term deals for airlines to ensure their fleets stay airborne longer and undergo time-critical service checks as required," he said.

"The net benefit here is to keep costs and inventory low while allowing Etihad to exploit the benefits of the A380's hub-to-hub high density capabilities," he added.