Wizz Air Abu Dhabi records robust flight bookings for winter

Airline plans to begin new round of recruitment by start of new fiscal year in April 2024

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi more than doubled the number of passengers carried to three million in 2023, from 1.2 million last year. Photo: Wizz Air
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Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is set for strong flight bookings in the winter months from December to February as the low-cost carrier attracts price-sensitive and repeat customers increasingly on the hunt for travel bargains.

The airline is pushing its aircraft utilisation and capacity to satisfy demand on existing routes, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi's managing director Johan Eidhagen said in a media briefing on Thursday.

"There will be some last-minute bookings but December is going to be a very strong month for us. It always is between this week and the week after New Year's, which are three of the strongest weeks of the year," he said.

"We have strong bookings already for January and February ... I'm pretty confident on the winter."

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi expects to record double-digit growth in the number of passengers it carries in 2024, Mr Eidhagen said, without providing an annual target.

The airline more than doubled passenger volumes to three million in 2023, up from 1.2 million passengers last year, as the global aviation industry bounced back from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of these three million passengers, more than 1.5 million were point-to-point passengers flying into Abu Dhabi. The UAE capital is “on track” to meet its target of attracting 24 million visitors this year, up from 18 million last year, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi said previously.

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi's load factor – a measure of how well an airline fills available seats – stood at 85 per cent this year and is set to increase in 2024, Mr Eidhagen said. Load factors of more than 90 per cent are "not uncommon" for low-cost carriers, he added.

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, a joint venture between Hungary's Wizz Air Holding and Abu Dhabi state holding company ADQ, has an air operator certificate in the UAE and launched operations in 2021 amid the pandemic.

The airline last month moved its operations to Abu Dhabi International Airport's new Terminal A, where its first flight took off on November 2.

The new terminal building, which has a capacity of 45 million passengers per year, will allow the airline to further grow its operations and offer a smoother travel journey, according to the executive.

"The new terminal is, of course, a massive upgrade in capacity. So it allows us to grow without restrictions so we can add more capacity, and we focused quite a lot together with the airport on fine-tuning operations and improving efficiency,” Mr Eidhagen said.

In 2023, the airline added four new Airbus A321 aircraft, taking its total fleet to 12 jets, and increased its seat capacity by 135 per cent to 3.7 million seats.

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi added eight new destinations this year, taking its network to a total of 40 routes in 27 different countries from Abu Dhabi, and plans to introduce more next year, Mr Eidhagen said.

To meet the growth in its operations, the carrier will begin a new round of staff recruitment by the start of its new financial year in April 2024, after hiring nearly 300 pilots and cabin crew this year, he said.

Updated: December 21, 2023, 2:31 PM