Journalists attend a news conference between Boeing Co. and Etihad at the Dubai Airshow on Monday. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, the newly-announced budget airline, is expected to start operations by June 2020, though the inaugural route is yet to be confirmed.

Tony Douglas, chief executive officer of Etihad Aviation Group, said on Monday that by “the end of the first or second quarter [of 2020], if [passengers] want to be on one of these aircraft, the opportunity is there.”

He declined to provide further details on the airline’s operations, but said that many announcements on the matter will be coming out over the next two to three weeks.

Douglas’ comments come just a month after Etihad Group and Air Arabia announced a deal to launch Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, the fifth UAE-based carrier and the first low-cost airline based in Abu Dhabi. The two aviation companies said at the time the new airline will be a joint venture.

“What we’ll see is connectivity from Abu Dhabi using Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, which is going to be great for the traveling public, it will be great for Etihad, and we’re really excited about it,” Douglas told reporters at the Dubai Air Show.

Speaking at a media briefing, the CEO also discussed Etihad’s operations, saying that the airline still has “a long way” to go till it returns to profitability. Etihad saw its third consecutive year of losses in 2018, reporting $1.28 billion in losses as passenger numbers fell and cargo revenues dropped. The airline has been in the midst of turnaround strategy.

“We’re slightly ahead of where we planned to be (on the strategy), and if we stay focused, if we do the right things like this for the right reasons, we’ll see a very strong Etihad in the future,” Douglas said, without specifying a timeline.