Airbus has delivered an A321neo to Wizz Air’s Abu Dhabi subsidiary, the first of 50 aircraft to arrive over the next ten years. The carrier plans to begin operations out of its new United Arab Emirates base on October 1st with flights to Kutaisi, Georgia, and Odesa, Ukraine.
October 1st is generally associated with the major furloughs and layoffs looming over the US commercial aviation industry. However, further East, it marks the beginning of a new chapter. Industrious Central European budget-carrier Wizz Air will commence operations with its United Arab Emirates subsidiary, based in Abu Dhabi. And now, it has the airplane to do so.
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A6-WZA made the journey on Wednesday
The aircraft, an Airbus A321neo registered as A6-WZA, flew from the manufacturer’s Hamburg facilities at Hamburg Finkenwerder (XFW) to Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) early Wednesday. Its sibling, A6-WZA, is said to be joining it in October.
the first A321neo for @wizzair Abu Dhabi A6-WZB has just left Airbus Hamburg and is now on its delivery flight as WAZ602 to Abu Dhabi…
they plan to commence operations on October 1st to Kutaisi/Georgia and Odessa/Ukraine…
A6-WZB seen here together with A6-WZA… pic.twitter.com/YQSFup66z5
— Dirk Grothe | Aviation Photography (@digro65) September 2, 2020
First flights to Georgia and Ukraine
As mentioned, Wizz Air is planning to commence operations out of Abu Dhabi on October 1st. The first flights will go to Kutaisi (KUT) in Georgia and Odesa (ODS) in Ukraine. However, the network will initially encompass four more destinations; Yerevan in Armenia, Larnaca in Cyprus, Alexandria in Egypt, and Athens, Greece.
Grand plans for UAE base
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi was established in December 2019 and is a joint venture between Wizz Air and Abu Dhabi Development Holding (ADDH), with the airline owning 70% and ADDH 30%.
While it may only be a matter of a couple of aircraft for the first month of operations, Wizz CEO Jozsef Varadi has grand plans for the new endeavor. At least another 50 jets from Wizz’s existing order book of 270 Airbus planes will go to the Middle East off-shoot in the next ten years. Varadi has suggested it could even hit 100 jets within 15.
However, it is unclear whether or not the carrier will operate exclusively A321neos, or if there will be A320neos in the fleet as well, as Wizz has orders for both models.
Not the inaugural flight
While this may be the first aircraft to arrive for Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, it was not the first Wizz flight to the UAE capital. The Hungarian low-cost-carrier operated the first flight from its home-base in Budapest on July 2nd.
The aircraft remained on UAE soil for one hour and 19 minutes before taking back off, having inaugurated the airline’s new base, and the carrier has been operating flights between the UAE and Hungary since.
While the Middle East is not traditionally an LCC market, as the economic situation, including oil prices, will remain precarious post-crisis, it could be that even from Abu Dhabi, travelers will eschew legacy carriers for more budget-conscious choices.
What do you think of Wizz’s Middle East low-cost venture? Will it be the roaring success its CEO is hoping for? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.