Dubai: Airbus is still waiting for its big win from a UAE-based carrier as the second day of the Dubai Air Show comes to an end.
On Monday, Air Arabia announced it will be adding new Airbus aircraft to its fleet, but through leasing the aircraft from a third party rather than by purchasing them. The Sharjah-based low-cost carrier said it has signed a lease agreement for six Airbus A321 neo long-range aircraft with US-based Air Lease Corporation.
Air Arabia will take delivery of the new aircraft starting 2019, and will use them on high density routes as well as to launch routes in South East Asia and in Africa.
With the carrier having a hub in Morocco, it could also use the aircraft to fly to countries within an eight-hour-range such as those in Eastern Europe, according to Adel Ali, Air Arabia’s chief executive officer.
“We don’t reach a lot of places [in Asia] at the moment, [so we could look at] anything from China, Thailand, Malaysia. A lot of bilateral discussions need to happen between the countries to get us to the airports, but what I’m saying today is that aeroplanes will be able to fly up to eight hours and would reach those points,” Ali said during a press conference to announce the deal.
Asked about expanding operations to India, Ali said that was restricted by traffic rights into the south Asian country. Foreign carriers have long asked for more capacity into India where demand is strong but where the country’s aviation industry remains highly protected.
“I think airlines that operate out of the UAE would like more capacity into India because I think the market can take it, and most of us are flying at a very high seat factor. Air Arabia goes to 13 airports, and we think India has many more airports to serve people,” he said.
The new A321neo will be the first of their kind to join Air Arabia’s existing fleet of 50 all-A320 aircraft. The carrier is expected to take delivery of three more A320’s in 2018, six in 2019, and will be looking at more aircraft on top of those, the CEO said.