Abu Dhabi’s New Low Cost Carrier Secures Operating Certificate

Abu Dhabi’s new low-cost carrier has moved one step closer to becoming a reality. The airline, being launched as a co-operation between Etihad and Air Arabia, today received its air operating certificate (AOC).

Air Arabia, Etihad, Abu Dhabi
Air Arabia Abu Dhabi today received its AOC. Photo: Air Arabia

Abu Dhabi has a lot to look forward to in terms of low-cost travel. Two new airlines are currently planning to launch from the UAE capital. Wizz Air is looking to fast track the introduction of purple to the nation’s aviation industry. Meanwhile, Etihad, Abu Dhabi’s largest carrier, is working with Air Arabia to launch a low-cost airline from the city.

A shiny new AOC

The new airline being formed by Eithad and Air Arabia will be called Air Arabia Abu Dhabi. Etihad’s full-service operations are based out of Abu Dhabi. Meanwhile, Air Arabia is headquartered in another UAE state, just 80 miles away at Sharjah International Airport.

The new airline entity today passed one of its most significant milestones on the road to launching. The airline received an air operating certificate from UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). The GCAA is also responsible for the AOC of both Etihad and Air Arabia. The new airline received its AOC following rigorous inspections by the GCAA.

Etihad Airways, Stored Aircraft, Maintenance
The new airline is the product of a partnership between Etihad and Air Arabia. Photo: Etihad Airways

When will Air Arabia Abu Dhabi launch?

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi is yet to commit to a firm launch date. This is a wise decision given the current unprecedented circumstances faced by the aviation industry globally. In a press release, the airline said that it would work with the authorities “to finalize the launch date as market conditions improve and skies are open again.”

Speaking of the new AOC, Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said:

“Despite these unprecedented times, today’s announcement is a message of positivity that reflects the strength of the UAE’s aviation industry. We are pushing ahead with our plans to resume normal flying and once we have, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will ideally serve those who wish to explore new destinations from the capital”

Purple competition

There seems to be a demand for a new low-cost carrier based out of Abu Dhabi, as two airlines are focusing on the market. Alongside Air Arabia, Wizz Air is also eying the launch of a low-cost subsidiary in Abu Dhabi. A month ago, Flight Global reported that the airline had applied for an AOC from the GCAA.

Air Arabia, Etihad, Abu Dhabi
Wizz Air is also looking to launch a new subsidiary in Abu Dhabi.

However, today the competition with Wizz Air was also renewed. While Air Arabia and Etihad were celebrating their new AOC, Wizz announced it wishes to fast track its UAE launch. The airline now intends to launch sometime before the third quarter of 2020. Depending on how the situation plays out, it could get its foot in the door before Air Arabia Abu Dhabi’s launch.

Which new Abu Dhabi low-cost carrier are you most excited to see launch flights? Who will win the race? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!