Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Aviation Group has partnered with Sharjah-based Air Arabia to launch the first low-cost carrier in the UAE Capital.
Etihad and Air Arabia will 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 airline, called Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, will adopt the low-cost business model, a statement said.
Its board of directors will include members nominated by Etihad and Air Arabia.
The new carrier will cater to the “growing low-cost travel market segment in the region”, the statement said.
Further details about the timing of the launch and destinations will be “revealed later”, it added.
Tony Douglas, group CEO, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “This exciting partnership supports our transformation programme and will offer our guests a new option for low-cost travel to and from Abu Dhabi, supplementing our own services. We look forward to the launch of the new airline in due course.”
Adel Al Ali, group CEO Air Arabia, added: “Home to the first low-cost carrier in the MENA region, the UAE has developed over the years to become a world-leading travel and tourism hub. We are thrilled to partner with Etihad to establish Air Arabia Abu Dhabi that will further serve the growing low-cost travel segment locally and regionally.”
The MENA low-cost air travel model was first introduced in the UAE in 2003 and currently, the market has the third highest gains in intra-regional low-cost carrier penetration rate.
Low-cost carriers accounted for 17 per cent share of seat capacity to and from the Middle East in 2018, compared to 8 per cent in 2009.
The UAE’s travel and tourism sector contributes to over 13.3 per cent of the nation’s GDP.