Air Arabia Abu Dhabi to start operations on July 14
Air Arabia Abu Dhabi looks set for its maiden flight on July 14 by launching a direct service to the ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria, the airline announced on Monday. It will launch another direct flight to Sohag in Egypt next day.
The UAE’s fifth national airline is going to begin its official journey when airlines across the globe are facing challenges to stay afloat due to shrinking travel demand in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Aviation analysts said that the new carrier will target the Middle East and North African market in the first phase of operations and then expand its reach to underserved Asian markets.
Passengers who booked the tickets with the new airline will also be able to take advantage of the wide network and fleet of Etihad Airways and Air Arabia.
Etihad and Air Arabia currently operate a combined fleet of 162 aircraft, including 109 by the Abu Dhabi’s state-owned airline and 53 by the Sharjah-based carrier - the only listed airline of the UAE.
Air Arabia flies to 170 destinations across 50 countries through its Sharjah, Morocco and Egypt hubs while Etihad flies to 80 destinations.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said Abu Dhabi has earned itself an exceptional reputation for business and leisure travel alike, and “we look forward to seeing the emirate continue to prosper as the current global situation improves and markets begin to reopen”.
“In these extraordinary times, it gives us great pride to launch Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, the capital’s first low-cost carrier. This joint venture between Etihad and Air Arabia will offer greater convenience and direct access to the UAE’s thriving capital for new markets worldwide, beginning with two key Egyptian routes, and expanding in time.”
Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia, said Egypt is a key travel market and the launch of the “first flights reflects our focus on supporting commercial and trade ties between both nations while providing our customers with a new value-for-money option to travel between both countries”.
“While the global aviation sector continues to witness unprecedented challenges due to Covid-19 pandemic, this step is a testament to the strength of the UAE aviation sector and our commitment to its long-term prospects,” Ali said.
Air Arabia Abu Dhabi was formed in October last year following an agreement by Etihad Airways and Air Arabia to establish an independent joint venture company that will operate as a low-cost passenger airline with Abu Dhabi International Airport as its hub.
“Even without the pandemic, starting up Air Arabia Abu Dhabi was always going to be a big challenge given the transformation at Etihad as well as the new presence of direct rival, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi too,” Ahmad told Khaleej Times.
“Air Arabia Abu Dhabi is in for a rough ride before it can see any industry shoots of recovery. Right now, the playing field is like a battle field and it’s a brave move that the airline will launch its operations when so many carriers are failing due to the derailment and collapse of traffic,” Ahmad said.