It was announced today that Etihad Aviation Group - owner of the national airline of the United Arab Emirates - and Air Arabia, MENA’s first and largest low-cost carrier - have signed an agreement to launch Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, the capital’s first low-cost carrier. Establishing an independent joint venture company will operate as a low-cost passenger airline, with its hub in Abu Dhabi International Airport. The new carrier is set to complement Etihad Airways’ services from Abu Dhabi, catering to the growing low-cost travel market segment in the region.
The UAE’s travel and tourism sector contributes to 13.3% of the nation’s GDP and enjoys a prominent standing as a global aviation hub, courtesy of the UAE’s ultra-modern infrastructure, advanced services sector and high-quality air transport.
The MENA low-cost air travel model was first introduced in the UAE in 2003 and has been rapidly growing since then. Today, the Middle East market enjoys the third highest gains in the intra-regional low-cost carrier penetration rate. Low-cost carriers accounted for 17% share of seat capacity to and from the Middle East in 2018, compared to only 8% in 2009.
Tony Douglas, Group CEO of Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Abu Dhabi is a thriving cultural hub with a clear economic vision built on sustainability and diversification. With the emirate’s diverse attractions and hospitality offerings, travel and tourism play a vital role in the economic growth of the capital and the UAE. By partnering with Air Arabia and launching Abu Dhabi’s first low-cost carrier, we are serving this long-term vision”.
Adel Al Ali, Group CEO of 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 while capitalising on the expertise that Air Arabia and Etihad will be providing”.