Air Arabia Abu Dhabi on course for spring launch
Abu Dhabi flag-carrier Etihad Airways and partner Air Arabia have no plans to delay the launch of a new low-cost carrier it has been confirmed.
Air Arabia chief executive, Adel Ali, said in November that the airline would be operational in the second quarter of 2020.
However, the new coronavirus outbreak has since brought international travel to a near halt.
“There are no plans to delay or postpone,” a spokesman for Air Arabia said earlier.
“Preparatory work for the launch remains in motion and will progress as the market situation improves.”
Etihad and Air Arabia hope to establish an independent joint venture company that will operate as a low-cost passenger airline with its hub in Abu Dhabi International Airport.
The new carrier will complement Etihad Airways’ services from Abu Dhabi and will compete in the growing low-cost travel market segment in the Middle East.
Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will be the United Arab Emirates fifth airline, alongside larger players including Emirates and flydubai.
However, experts have warned it could face financial trouble in the current climate.
Amber Barnes, travel analyst at GlobalData, said: “Not delaying the launch could be setting the low-cost airline up for failure from the onset.
“In the short-term, the airline may prove to be an economic challenge due to current low demand that is seeing many airlines grounding fleets and seeking government help.
“The future is extremely uncertain as the lengths of all travel restrictions remain very much unclear.
“Covid-19 has brought international travel to a halt and the decision to not delay the launch is questionable as it could be a long time until the airline industry regains some sort of normality.”
Virtually all flights from the United Arab Emirates are currently, with both Etihad and Emirates operating a small number of repatriation departures.
Barnes added: “Other airlines have delayed launches due to travel restrictions and uncertainty.
“Qatar Airways announced the launch of new flight routes until July and later said this will be pushed back further.
“This is sensible considering the current situation in the airline industry, suggesting Air Arabia and Etihad should follow suit.”