Air Arabia Abu Dhabi receives Air Operating Certificate, becoming 5th UAE airline

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, the capital’s first low-cost carrier, today announced that it has received its Air Operating Certificate (AOC), which allows it to start operating from Abu Dhabi as the fifth UAE national airline.

Securing the AOC highlights that Air Arabia Abu Dhabi has all the professional capabilities, adheres to all safety regulations needed for aircraft operations and has proven fit-to-fly ability following the completion of rigorous inspections by the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi will continue to work closely with the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to finalise the launch date as market conditions improve and skies are open again.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi was formed following the agreement by Etihad Airways and Air Arabia to establish an independent joint venture company that will operate as a low-cost passenger airline with the Abu Dhabi International Airport as its hub. The new carrier will complement the services of Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi and cater to the growing low-cost travel market segment in the region.

HE Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of GCAA, said: “We congratulate Air Arabia Abu Dhabi for successfully obtaining the AOC after meeting all the required standards and passing all inspections. While the global aviation industry continues to face its greatest challenge due to the impact of COVID-19 on air traffic movement, today’s announcement reflects the strength and confidence of the UAE’s aviation sector and its long-term prospects. The UAE is a global air travel hub, supported by state-of-the-art aviation infrastructure and we continue to provide our residents and visitors with multiple options to stay connected and explore the world. Today’s announcement serves as another testament to the investments made by the UAE in strengthening its aviation sector and we look forward to the launch of Air Arabia Abu Dhabi in due course and the future growth opportunities for the UAE Aviation Sector.”

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, meeting the growing demand for low-cost travel in the region and complementing Etihad’s own global network. Just as importantly, it will make the amazing sights and experiences of Abu Dhabi accessible to many more visitors from currently unserved markets. Our partnership with Air Arabia will bring exceptional value for passengers, and we look forward to the start of operations once the skies open up again.”

Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia, said: “We thank the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) for their support during the process of obtaining the AOC as well as the Air Arabia and Etihad teams who, despite current challenges, worked tirelessly to obtain the license on time.

While the spread of COVID-19 continues to impact the global economy including the aviation industry, we are confident that the industry shall overcome today’s challenges and will emerge stronger. Obtaining the AOC during this time reflects our commitment and readiness to launch Air Arabia Abu Dhabi operations as soon as skies and airports open and customers can fly again.”

He added: “Air Arabia Abu Dhabi demonstrates the commitment of the UAE to invest in the aviation sector, and we are looking forward to the launch day, which will establish Abu Dhabi as another key hub in the region for low-cost travel.”

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi has been assigned the reservation code 3L by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Based in Abu Dhabi, the carrier will adopt the low-cost business model followed by Air Arabia.

The MENA low-cost air travel model was first introduced in the UAE in 2003 with the launch of Air Arabia and has been recorded rapid growth since then.