With very little going on in terms of passenger flights, Hungarian low-cost legend Wizz Air has taken the opportunity to switch its UAE operations from Dubai to Abu Dhabi. Previously operating to DWC, the airline will restart passenger flights into Abu Dhabi within the next two weeks. Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is still on track to start before the end of the year.
Wizz arrives in Abu Dhabi
European low-cost airline Wizz Air has already begun sliding into Abu Dhabi ahead of its launch of a new airline based there. Previously flying into Dubai, the airline will now operate only to Abu Dhabi, with services slated to restart in the next 10 – 14 days.
In an interview with leading analyst and consultant John Strickland for a World Aviation Festival webinar, CEO of Wizz Jozsef Varadi shared his excitement for the move. He said,
“I think we have been gaining some experience when it comes to operating to the UAE, and there are two significant events that will happen in a fairly short period of time. The first is that we are now moving operations from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.
“We think that Abu Dhabi airport will open up earlier than Dubai (DWC). And we think that, given our strategic initiative in Abu Dhabi, we should be showing up in Abu Dhabi. This is happening in the next few days.
“In the next 10 to 14 days we will resume flights to the UAE, and the airport we’re going to fly to is Abu Dhabi”
— John Strickland (@JohnLStrickland) May 27, 2020
While this isn’t a full-on launch of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, it’s the first step in the process and a clear indication that things are right on track for the launch later this year. The airline previously said it would launch from Abu Dhabi with five routes to start with.
What’s next for Wizz Air Abu Dhabi?
It seems that there is no stopping this ambitious airline from launching its assault on the low-cost market in the Middle East. While the move from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is the first catalyst for Wizz Air’s current level of excitement, the second part is equally inspirational. Varadi said,
“Secondly, also fairly shortly, we will shortly announce the commercial start of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi. We are hugely excited about that initiative.
“We can capture 5 billion of the world’s population within a radius of six and a half hours from Abu Dhabi. We think it represents plenty of opportunities for the airline to develop its network. We’re going to start that initiative commercially within a few weeks, and operationally, we will be up in the air towards the end of the year as planned.”
Varadi pointed to his ‘designed in’ economies and investment in new planes as measures of Wizz Air’s distinctively competitive style. He believes that while legacy airlines and hub carriers may struggle, Wizz’s business model will allow it to thrive in a post-COVID environment.
Not deterred by the coronavirus crisis
While many airlines are cutting their fleets and anticipating a slow recovery, Wizz has been one airline that has gone the opposite way. The airline has not deferred any aircraft deliveries, and is still looking eagerly towards an up gauging of its fleet to mostly A321neos over the coming years. Speaking about the impact of the current crisis on his plans for Abu Dhabi, Varadi was bullish saying that,
“As a matter of fact, it’s even increased our appetite, given the situation, as we’ve seen competition is getting weaker here or there. [We believe] we should be starting Wizz Air Abu Dhabi at a larger scale and this is what we’re going to announce.
“This is an initiative that will take us to probably the scale of Wizz Air Hungry in the same period. So if you look at the numbers, Wizz Air Hungary made it to about 100 aircraft in 15 years and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will also make it to 100 aircraft in 15 years as well, if not more.”
While there’s no news on how many aircraft will be stationed in Abu Dhabi for its launch, Varadi’s ambitious plans for Wizz Air Abu Dhabi could see a rapid deployment of capacity into the region. He believes that his model of low-cost, safe, green transportation is perfectly replicable in the Middle East and beyond. He concluded by saying,
“Through Wizz Air Abu Dhabi we would hope that we could penetrate not only the UAE but also the whole of the GCC area.”
The GCC area includes the UAE, but also extends to five further nations including Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain. Wizz already flies to Israel, so it wouldn’t be entirely unexpected to see it eyeing related states including Jordan, Egypt, Iran and Iraq in the future too.
With Wizz due to provide its investors update in a week’s time, we’ll likely know more about the plans for Wizz Air Abu Dhabi then. Are you excited to see the launch of this new low-cost airline? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.