Adel Ali, chief executive officer of Air Arabia 20190430
Adel Ali, chief executive officer of Air Arabia Image Credit: Ahmad Ramzan/Gulf News

Budget carrier Air Arabia on Wednesday said it had requested the government for financial support to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have put a request in and if it comes, we will be very happy,” said Adel Ali, the company’s CEO during a virtual event. “It will help us to pay a sum of our outstanding quicker - If it doesn’t, I think we can survive hopefully for some time to come.”

Ali said the airline was “in discussions” with the government and that they were holding regular meetings with the civil aviation authorities at the federal and local levels.

More flights

Ali said about 40 per cent of the carrier’s operations in the UAE were back after the pandemic led to a complete grounding of its fleets in March.

In Egypt and Morocco – the airline’s other two hubs – Air Arabia is operating at 60 per cent and 80 per cent, respectively, of pre-COVID levels, the executive said.

“As Europe is getting into more rock downs … that number is shrinking but interestingly, this time round, …. the airports are open and …. and people are traveling, so that’s not too bad,” he said.

‘Good chemistry’

Ali oversaw the formation of Air Arabia Abu Dhabi, the joint venture between Air Arabia and Etihad, which has begun flying to international routes this year.

“So far it’s been great… we seem to have good chemistry, despite the sort of more stringent protocol for traveling in and out of Abu Dhabi for the right reason,” said Ali. “At the present time, we still see good opportunities and it’s turning the corner.”

The newly formed carrier has introduced services to Nepal, Bangladesh and most recently Oman.

Not deferring deliveries

Last year, Air Arabia placed a $14 billion order for 120 Airbus A320 family aircraft support its global network expansion strategy. The planes are expected to be delivered in 2024.

“We have not spoken to Airbus yet, because there is no need to,” said Ali. “I personally believe the market will recover much faster - as soon as we find a vaccine, or a treatment people will want to get out and travel.”