New Etihad LCC Announces Inital Route Network

Preliminary schedules for Air Arabia Abu Dhabi have been filed and we now have an idea of where this Etihad-partner airline will fly come Spring 2020. It appears that the airline will fly to some interesting destinations in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and South Asia.

New Etihad LCC Announces Inital Route Network
Air Arabia operates an all-Airbus A320 fleet. Photo: Max Benidza via Flickr

First announced in mid-October, Abu Dhabi based Etihad Airways is entering into a deal to set up its own low-cost carrier. This will be in partnership with the budget carrier Air Arabia, which is headquartered in the emirate of Sharjah.

“What we’ll see is connectivity from Abu Dhabi using Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, which is going to be great for the traveling public, it will be great for Etihad, and we’re really excited about it,” -Tony Douglas, CEO of Etihad Aviation Group via Gulf News

The routes

If all goes according to plan, these routes will commence in March 2020. According to One Mile At A Time, Etihad is showing the following destinations for Air Arabia Abu Dhabi. In case it isn’t obvious, all flights depart from Abu Dhabi:

  • Almaty (Kazakhstan) 3x weekly (An Etihad route until October 2016)
  • Dhaka (Bangladesh) 1x daily (An Etihad route until September 2018)
  • Faisalabad (Pakistan) 1x daily
  • Jaipur (India) (An Etihad route until February 2018)
  • Kiev (Ukraine) 3x weekly
  • Multan (Pakistan) 1x daily
  • Peshawar (Pakistan) 1x daily (An Etihad route until December 2014)
  • Taif (Saudi Arabia) 4x weekly
  • Tbilisi (Georgia) 1x daily
  • Yanbu (Saudi Arabia) 3x weekly
  • Yerevan (Armenia) 4x weekly

According to Routesonline, all Air Arabia Abu Dhabi flights utilize the Airbus A320, although Air Arabia does have a small fleet of Airbus A321neos. As these are preliminary filings, these routes and schedules are subject to change over the next few weeks, including the date of the inaugural flights.

New Etihad LCC Announces Inital Route Network
Travelers will soon be able to fly from smaller cities on Air Arabia and connect through Abu Dhabi, and on to long-haul Etihad flights. Photo: Etihad

Feeding into the Etihad network

None of these destinations are currently served by Etihad itself. This is ideal as  Air Arabia and Etihad can work together and not against each other.

In fact, these two airlines will likely arrange themselves in a partnership quite similar to the Emirates-flydubai partnership. The way this deal works is that flydubai can connect smaller, low-demand routes to the global and far-reaching Emirates network. Passengers are able to transition between the two airlines via their hub at Dubai International.

Not all passengers have been a fan of this arrangement as they have found the level of service between flydubai and Emirates too different and unequal.


New Etihad LCC Announces Inital Route Network
Air Arabia also has partner airlines in Morocco and Egypt under the same business name. Photo: Air Arabia

Clearly Etihad is setting itself up with Air Arabia Abu Dhabi in the same way Emirates is doing with flydubai. It’s even going a step further by arranging a partnership with Kuwait Airways.  This increased connectivity most certainly looks to benefit travelers with more options and perhaps more competition on certain routes.

Is this partnership a good idea? Do you think it will allow Etihad to reclaim some market share from Emirates? Let us know in the comments!

We emailed Air Arabia with a request for comment but have not received a comment as of publishing this article.