Amid the uncertainty of the global health crisis, some airlines pushed ahead with their plans for growth and expansion. Wizz Air was one such carrier to do this, launching its Middle Eastern subsidiary Wizz Air Abu Dhabi with flights commencing in January 2021. As the airline subsidiary approaches its first birthday, let’s take a look at its accomplishments over the past 12 months.
34 destinations over 12 months
Originally slated to launch in October of 2020, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi decided to push back its launch several times due to ongoing restrictions and low demand. However, the carrier finally completed its inaugural service on January 15th with service to Athens.
The following month, the carrier then began service from Abu Dhabi to another city in Greece: Thessaloniki. Subsequent destinations added include Alexandria (Egypt), Athens (Greece), Baku (Azerbaijan), Bahrain, Belgrade (Serbia), Kutaisi (Georgia), Kyiv (Ukraine), Odesa (Ukraine), Sarajevo (Bosnia), Sohag (Egypt), Tel-Aviv (Israel), Tirana (Albania) and Yerevan (Armenia) among many others.
The airline most recently launched services to Muscat in Oman on October 31st and Moscow Vnukovo on December 15th. In total, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi launched more than 34 destinations in its first year of operations. “The airline has successfully operated more than 1,080 flights since its launch in January 2021, with 506 flights taking place in the fourth quarter of the year,” the airline said in a statement.
“We are proud of what has been achieved since launching our operations in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Through collaboration with key stakeholders, we have been able to grow and expand our network to more than 34 destinations despite all the challenges we have faced.” – Kees Van Schaick, Managing Director of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, via statement.
Van Schaick adds that its 2021 growth has helped to play a role in attracting tourists into the emirate of Abu Dhabi and also helped build on ambitions to expand the airline’s network to even more destinations.
Abu Dhabi’s only link to Central Asia
As noted in a previous Simple Flying article, both Almaty and Nur-Sultan, the Kazakhstan capital (previously known as Astana), have been served from Abu Dhabi before by codeshare partners Etihad Airways and Air Astana.
Etihad Airways operated flights to Almaty from 2008 until 2016, while Air Astana operated the route until 2014, often once-daily. Meanwhile, service to Nur-Sultan was operated by Etihad between 2009 and 2020, while Air Astana ended the route in 2015. Clearly, an unprofitable connection, the end of Nur-Sultan in 2020 marked the end of Central Asia on Abu Dhabi’s route map, unhelped by Etihad’s significant route cuts.
It was in May 2021 that Wizz Air Abu Dhabi stepped in, announcing its first-ever flights to Central Asia. This included two routes to Kazakhstan with twice-weekly service to Almaty from May 14th and flights to Nur-Sultan from May 13th.
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An exciting 2022
The growth of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is only expected to grow in 2022, with India firmly in the sights of the airline. According to the Khaleej Times, the ultra-low-cost carrier is in the process of getting regulatory approvals from Indian authorities. If permissions are granted, the carrier could start operations in the region soon.
The report quotes Van Schaick as saying the following:
“We have all the approvals from the UAE side, and now we’re in the middle of the process of getting regulatory approvals from the subcontinent countries. It’s up to the destination markets to approve that. All the bilateral services agreements are in place. It is a matter of finalizing documentary and regulatory approvals, and then we are good to go there as well. We will see that happen sometime in 2022.”
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi operates its flights with a young fleet of four Airbus A321neos. These jets have an average age of just 1.2 years.
Where else would you like to see the airline fly? Let us know by leaving a comment.