Dubai: Etihad Airways said it would be unaffected by the financial costs associated with last week's mishap in Toulouse, which badly damaged an Airbus aircraft scheduled to join the carrier's fleet.
According to initial reports, engineers from Airbus and Abu Dhabi Aviation Technologies were completing engine tests for the A340-600 when the aircraft struck the wall of a testing pen. Five people were hospitalised and the aircraft, costing $218 million at list prices, was declared a complete write-off.
The plane carried the Etihad livery and was to be delivered in Abu Dhabi this week. It was the third of four A340-600s ordered by Etihad.
A spokesman for the airline said the aircraft had not been formally handed over to the airline when the crash occurred.
"The whole aircraft and its contents were insured by Airbus as the aircraft was operating under a temporary French registration [F-WWCJ] until November 21 when Etihad was set to have the aircraft delivered," he said.
"It's too early to discuss matters of compensation," he added. "As you would expect, our priority is the welfare of those involved and injured in the incident."
Once investigations by the French police and BEA, France's civil aviation investigation agency, conclude, Etihad will then begin negotiating with Airbus on a replacement aircraft or other options.
The aircraft had been slotted to work as a replacement plane while other Etihad aircraft underwent heavy maintenance. Because of this, its impact on the airline's route expansion plans was "not expected to be significant," the Etihad spokesman said. In the next month Etihad expects to receive its last A340-600 on order from the Toulouse airframe manufacturer.
Investigations into the accident are ongoing. This week BEA said the latest findings suggest the aircraft suffered no engine or brake malfunction leading up to the crash.
News reports quoted BEA as saying the aircraft was stationary but its wheels were not wedged by chocks while a final test on its brakes and engines was taking place.
Other reports suggested the plane had completed all tests and was in the process of leaving the test pen area when the accident occurred.
"Airbus has told Etihad that the engine test-run had already been completed beforehand, and that the A340 had been making its way out of the pen," reported the UK-based trade magazine Air Transport Intelligence.