Air Arabia Group, the parent of Air Arabia (G9, Sharjah), has signed an agreement with the Armenian National Interest Fund (ANIF), a state-owned investment vehicle, to establish a new joint venture in Armenia that will become the country's flag carrier.

"We see tremendous potential for Armenia in building its airline sector, which will add sustained value to the economy through job creation and the development of travel and tourism sector. We thank ANIF and the Department of Civil Aviation for their trust and we look forward to working hand in hand to develop the new airline, which will serve as a value-for-money air travel option for Armenians and visitors to the country," Group Chief Executive Adel Abdullah Ali said.

The new carrier's name will be chosen from a list of proposals submitted by Armenian citizens through August 14, 2021.

The investors did not outline the exact shareholding structure of the planned joint venture or its proposed fleet or network. The airline will be based out of Yerevan and operate using a low-cost carrier business model. It plans to begin its AOC certification drive "shortly".

According to Sputnik Armenia, the new carrier would launch before the Summer 2022 season and will operate both A320 and A321 types. Air Arabia Group will likely have a 51% stake in the start-up.

Air Arabia has a track record of branching out to other countries and regions, having already co-established Air Arabia Maroc, Air Arabia Egypt, and most recently, Air Arabia Abu Dhabi. In late 2020, it also reportedly began scouting the Algerian market for a potential local partner.

According to the ch-aviation PRO airlines, there are currently eight active commercial airlines in Armenia, all of them privately-owned, although only two of them operate scheduled passenger services: Armenia Aircompany (a subsidiary of Georgian Airways) and Armenia Airways. Shirak Avia, NovAir (Armenia), and FlyArmenia Airways are planning to begin operations soon. Armenia has not had a state-owned flag carrier since the collapse of Armenian Airlines (1991) in 2003. Its role was subsequently assumed by privately-owned Armavia, which went out of business in 2013. The Armenian government has been touting the launch of a new flag carrier for a while.

Editorial Comment: The article updates with further information regarding the launch timeline and shareholding structure. - 25.07.2021 - 18:35 UTC