Article by Ahmed Detring
Dubai, The United Arab Emirates: October 2019, Etihad Airways and Air Arabia group signed an agreement over the creation of Abu Dhabi’s first low- cost airline Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.
The new airline will be based from Abu Dhabi international airport, which happens to be the country’s second-busiest hub after Dubai Intl’. It will be an addition to the existing Air Arabia airline based in Sharjah intl’ and Ras Al Khaymah. Also having joint ventures and hubs in Egypt and Morocco (Air Arabia Egypt and Air Arabia Maroc).
The new airline, however, will not just be another extension to Air Arabia in Abu Dhabi as it plans to have its separate operations to further broaden the access to the country’s capital city and add to the influx of tourists visiting the UAE.
Currently, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi is in the process of obtaining it’s operating licenses to start operations by the second quarter of 2020. It’s expected that it will start operating flights from Abu Dhabi to India (helping with the grounding of jet airways) and to destinations in the Middle East and Africa as well.
To fly to these destinations it will probably lease some Airbus A320’s from its parent companies, just like it’s Egyptian and Moroccan subsidiaries. Air Arabia is on the verge of new orders for about 100 aircraft as well, deciding between the 737 MAX and the A320/A220 family. The order is expected to be announced at the upcoming Dubai Air show this month.
Based on personal experience: Air Arabia is one of the few low -cost airlines that seemingly truly care about passenger comfort and convenience, having the longest legroom (81 cm) and one of the easiest online booking systems to understand and use; accompanied by the lowest fare in it’s class. The Airbus A320 I flew with them (SU-AAD) provided one of the best flight experiences I’ve ever had!
This partnership will not only help increase tourism around the Abu Dhabi area but will also add another hub for passengers for low-cost travel between the east and west.
Passengers will benefit from using Etihad’s big footprint at Abu Dhabi International as it saves them having to travel out to Sharjah just to get cheap flights.
It will be the UAE’s 5th airline after Emirates, Etihad, Fly Dubai and Air Arabia. Making UAE’s airports quite busy hubs considering the country only has about 10 million citizens.
It is believed that the partnership will help both Air Arabia expand its influence in the region and Etihad to recover from its losses from the last 2 years to become profitable again by 2023 as expected.