Etihad’s New Low-Cost Airline Will Launch Flights Next Week

The long-awaited launch of Air Arabia Abu Dhabi is imminent. Formed through a partnership with Air Arabia and Etihad Airways, the new airline was set to launch in Q2 of 2020. Despite the challenges presented by the COVID pandemic, the launch was only set back by a matter of days, with the first flights slated to begin next week on July 14th.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi launch
Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will launch next week. Photo: Air Arabia Abu Dhabi

New UAE airline will launch next week

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, a brand-new airline formed in partnership between Air Arabia and Etihad Airways, is gearing up for a launch this month. It will take off with just two Airbus A320 aircraft, as planned, and will begin service with a route to the Egyptian city of Alexandria on July 14th.

This inaugural route will be followed by a second Egyptian service, connecting Abu Dhabi to the Nile town of Sohag the following day. Air Arabia Abu Dhabi sees Egypt as a key destination for the launch services, although we can expect more destinations in other countries to be added as the airline grows. In a statement seen by Simple Flying, Adel Al Ali, Group CEO at Air Arabia commented,

“Egypt is a key travel market and the launch of the first flights reflects our focus on supporting commercial and trade ties between both nations while providing our customers with a new value-for-money option to travel between both countries.”

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi launch
Expect full PPE for cabin crew. Photo: Air Arabia Abu Dhabi

As expected, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi’s crew will be fully COVID equipped for safety.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.

Details of the flights

Flights to Borg Al Arab International Airport from Abu Dhabi will operate three times per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. They will leave Abu Dhabi at 15:00 local, arriving into Alexandria at 16:55 the same day. The return flight will leave Alexandria at 17:35, arriving back at Abu Dhabi at 23:25 local time.

The sister flights to Sohag (HMB) will operate on Wednesdays, leaving at 14:20 local time. These will arrive in Sohag at 16:00. The return flights leave at 16:40, arriving into the UAE airport at 22:10.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi launch
The launch flights will both go to Egypt. Photo: GCMap

Despite the obvious challenges presented by COVID, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi was not to be deterred. The airline was originally slated to launch in Q2 of 2020, so it is only a handful of days behind schedule. Both Al Ali and Tony Douglas, Group CEO at Etihad Aviation Group, remain positive about the future of the brand. Ali said,

“While the global aviation sector continues to witness unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19 pandemic, this step is a testament to the strength of the UAE aviation sector and our commitment to its long-term prospects.”

Tony Douglas further commented,

“In these extraordinary times, it gives us great pride to launch Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, the capital’s first low-cost carrier. This joint venture between Etihad and Air Arabia will offer greater convenience and direct access to the UAE’s thriving capital for new markets, beginning with two key Egyptian routes, and expanding in time.”

Codeshare with Etihad

Etihad has today announced that it will codeshare with the new carrier, meaning that flights can be booked right through between Etihad’s global network and Air Arabia Abu Dhabi’s short-haul network.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi launch
The launch will be marked with an immediate codeshare with Etihad. Photo: Air Arabia

The Abu Dhabi based long-haul giant will place its EY code on the very first flight of Air Arabia Abu Dhabi to Alexandria, as well as its second destination of Sohag the following day. Etihad says it plans to add more codeshare destinations in the coming week as Air Arabia Abu Dhabi adds more routes to its blossoming network.

Although Air Arabia Abu Dhabi was launched in partnership with Etihad, it very much follows the business model of low-cost carrier Air Arabia. This means that, although it may end up looking very much like a regional carrier feeding into the Etihad network, it will be a very different experience for those transferring to or from the mainline carrier’s network.

Are you excited to see Air Arabia Abu Dhabi finally launch? Let us know what you think about this new airline in the comments.