Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has announced a codeshare agreement with Abu Dhabi’s first low-cost airline, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi. Effective 9 July, Etihad will place its ‘EY’ code on Air Arabia Abu Dhabi’s inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi to the Egyptian city of Alexandria on 14 July, followed by the Nile city of Sohag the next day.
The new agreement enables guests to book Etihad flights in conjunction with Air Arabia Abu Dhabi services, connecting its global route network beyond the UAE capital to new airline’s routes. Etihad plans to add further codeshare destinations to the partnership scope as more Air Arabia Abu Dhabi destinations are announced in the coming weeks.
Air Arabia Abu Dhabi was formed following an agreement by Etihad Airways and Air Arabia to establish an independent joint venture company that will operate as a low-cost passenger airline with Abu Dhabi International Airport as its hub. The airline will start its operations with two Airbus A320 aircraft based at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
Around the time Air Arabia Abu Dhabi was first announced, Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst at StrategicAero Research, told AMEinfo that since Etihad is in the midst of financial restructuring and currently unable to launch its own low-cost carrier, the move to work with Air Arabia will help it tap into a market in which they do not have a presence.
“If anything, there’s a big risk that Air Arabia will cannibalise some traffic that would otherwise travel to its hub in Sharjah,” he said, adding that Etihad may want to push some services regionally to places like Saudi Arabia or re-enter Iran too.
For the new carrier, Ahmad believes, the fleet will likely come from Air Arabia’s existing inventory to ensure that operations can commence quickly. “It will also ensure that costs stay capped and that both airlines can pool resources rather than having to wait for new airplanes.”
Additionally, Etihad Airways announced a codeshare agreement with Kuwait Airways late last year as well, on selected services on bookings for travel from January 5, 2020, as Gulf Business reported at the time.