Wizz Air is one of many low-cost carriers planning to utilize the new Airbus A321XLR. With a range of up to 4,700 nautical miles, the aircraft allows Wizz’s Abu Dhabi arm to grow its presence far beyond Europe and the Middle East. And the airline isn’t ruling out this opportunity either. Here’s what Wizz Air CCO George Michalopoulos told Simple Flying in an exclusive interview.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is the European carrier’s newly founded airline in the UAE. Operating with a fleet of four A321neos, the carrier connected travelers in the UAE and beyond into the Middle East and Europe with rock-bottom fares mostly seen on intra-European services. However, it might be able to grow its presence even further in two years.
If Wizz Air’s target of taking delivery of its first A321XLR in 2023 holds, the airline has the chance to access a population much of the world’s population. This will include flights to East Asia, Africa, and the current markets of Europe, the Middle East, Central, and South Asia.
The A321XLR can open up the lucrative Chinese market, connections to Southern Africa, and hundreds of new cities. While not all cities can be reached due to operational reasons, the aircraft will be a gamechanger for Wizz Air’s range. But will the airline do it? Indeed, it already has access to several of these markets using the A321neo (about 3,700 NM range). Let’s find out.
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Asked about a potential expansion beyond India in the near future, Wizz Air CCO George Michalopoulos said,
“Yeah, we could go beyond India. Certainly the [A321]XLR is a candidate. We have we haven’t finalised the allocation and we haven’t made any announcements on how we’re going to allocate the [A321]XLR. But Abu Dhabi is certainly a candidate that would allow us to go further east than the Indian subcontinent.”
This would undoubtedly be a big step for Wizz Air Abu Dhabi. The airline only began flying in January and has limited its schedule to Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Moldova, Serbia, and Ukraine. These are all well-tested markets for the mainline Wizz Air and don’t represent a radical break.
However, these limited destinations have much to do with COVID-19 restrictions and Abu Dhabi’s ‘Safe List.’ Once countries begin opening up once again, there is little doubt that the airline will try to enter new markets and make a presence in the region.
Lots to do
The delivery of the first A321XLR is slated for 2023, and Wizz Air is hoping to receive it in the same year. Before this, however, there are still several untapped markets for the airline. Chiefly among these is India, a huge market for point-to-point UAE traffic and huge potential for one-stop connections into Europe. For now, expect to see Wizz Air Abu Dhabi continue to grow its reach globally and potentially even to long-haul destinations.
What do you think about Wizz Air’s plans to fly long-haul out of Abu Dhabi? Let us know in the comments!