Air Arabia plans to launch China flights shortly

Air Arabia (G9, Sharjah) chief executive officer Adel Ali has announced plans to launch flights to China soon. Air Arabia would have been allocated “good” traffic rights for flights to China in the recent bilateral talks between the United Arab Emirates and the Chinese government. While Ali did not want to disclose the destinations Air Arabia plans to serve, Urumqi would be a logical first choice given its relative proximity to the United Arab Emirates allowing Air Arabia to operate to the city non-stop with its fleet of A320-200s.

Dubai: Sharjah-based low-cost carrier Air Arabia is planning to launch routes into China soon, latching on to growing trade and tourism between Asia and the Gulf Arab countries, chief executive Adel Ali said.

“The government of the UAE with the Chinese government had bilateral discussions, and we secured some good traffic rights into China,” Ali said on the sidelines of a private equity conference in Abu Dhabi on Monday. “We will be launching those flights in the not-too-distant future.”

He declined to say which cities Air Arabia would fly to, but the airline typically chooses less-served airports instead of major hubs and stays within a five to six-hour flight time from Sharjah.

The major long-haul Gulf carriers, such as Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, already all fly direct to some of China’s biggest cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu.

Dubai-listed Air Arabia’s focus recently has been on expansion into Central Asia, Mr. Ali said. It started flights in August to Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.

While the airline was growing, Ali said there were currently no plans to add to its aircraft orders. Air Arabia still has 28 aircraft set to be delivered in the coming years, and is adequately financed through next year, he said.