Dubai: Fly Arna, a joint venture between UAE’s Air Arabia and Armenia’s sovereign wealth fund, plans to launch flights from late May, said the Sharjah-based carrier's CEO Adel Al Ali, during a media briefing.
Armenia’s new national airline, which is waiting to receive its air operator’s certification, will serve destinations in Central Asia, Russia and the Middle East. In terms of funding, 51 per cent of Fly Arna will be owned by ANIF (Armenian National Interests Fund) and the remaining is with the Sharjah-based airline, which also has a stake in Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.
“Air Arabia is specialized in investing and operating low-cost airlines using its proven business model that we have built,” said Ali. “By end May, we hope to have to have two airplanes in full Fly Arna colours flying from Yerevan.”
Ali said that the new airline will start by operating the Airbus A320. “It could either be from Air Arabia’s fleet or leased from elsewhere,” he said. “That will be decided in the next week or two based on what’s available in the market.
“We are confident that Fly Arna will have the right number of A320 aircraft, which will fit our needs at the moment out of Armenia,” said Ali. “Given Armenia’s location, they can go to a lot of places within 3-4 hours.”
Europe flights - not yet
Ali said that flights connecting Armenia to Europe were not an “immediate” part of the plan. In June 2020, EU banned all seven airlines registered in Armenia from operating regular flights to the EU, saying they failed to meet international aviation safety standards.
Competitive ticket rates
Air Arabia, known for offering the lowest fares to destinations in India and the Middle East, will follow a similar strategy in its new venture as well. “Our aim is of course to stimulate the market to bring more people to and from Armenia and to grow the size of the business overall,” said Ali. “Our prices have always been competitive and that will continue to be the business model."
Responding to a query about potentially competing with other carriers on the route, Ali said: “When you are an international airline of a country, every other airline that operates to and from your country competes with you. That's a good thing.”