Air Arabia and Etihad Airways have no plans to delay the launch of a low-cost joint venture known as Air Arabia Abu Dhabi according to a spokesperson for the Sharjah-based airline. The two carriers announced their intention to create Abu Dhabi’s first discount airline in October 2019, although no official launch date has ever been set.
Adel Ali, Air Arabia’s chief executive revealed late last year that executives were aiming from a launch date in the second quarter of 2020, while some rumours suggested the subsidiary could have been up and running by the end of March.
“Preparatory work for the launch remains in motion and will progress as the market situation improves,” a spokesperson for Air Arabia was quoted as saying by Gulf News. “There are no plans to delay or postpone (the launch,” the statement continued.
The decision not to push back the launch date comes despite the COVID-19 pandemic largely grounding the vast majority of regularly scheduled passenger flights worldwide. Officials in the UAE grounded all passenger flights on March 24 and have only eased the restrictions slightly for repatriation flights to return stranded tourists home.
Despite no official launch date, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi was named a national carrier of the United Arab Emirates in January. Etihad Airways is the official national carrier of the UAE, while Emirates is the national carrier of Dubai.
Air Arabia has denied rumours that the new operation will be used to take over unprofitable or low-yield routes currently operated by Etihad Airways and said it was “disappointed” by “distorted statements” reported by Bloomberg in November.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.