First Wizz Air flight lands in Abu Dhabi as airline eyes Middle East expansion

The Eastern European carrier is planning to begin services to Sofia, Katowice and Cluj-Napoca from September

Wizz Air has added 200 new routes and redeployed 22 planes to new markets as air travel resumes. Courtesy Wizz Air
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Wizz Air, Eastern Europe’s biggest low-cost airline, started its scheduled service to Abu Dhabi with its first Budapest-Abu Dhabi flight on July 1 as it plans expansion within the region.

The airline, which is currently operating twice a week to Budapest and Bucharest from the UAE capital, is planning to begin flights to Sofia, Katowice and Cluj-Napoca from September this year.

"The arrival of Wizz Air is a testament to the strength of the Abu Dhabi market and a reflection of the success of our investments in transforming Abu Dhabi International Airport into a strategically-positioned global hub for airlines from across the world," Khalil Lamrabet, senior vice president of aviation development at Abu Dhabi Airports, said.

The Hungarian low-cost airline’s operations start ahead of its collaboration with Abu Dhabi to form the country’s sixth national carrier, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.

The new airline is awaiting an air operator's certificate from the UAE's aviation regulator and is carrying out the necessary steps to obtain the required licences and legal procedures to begin operations, the UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority said last week.

In June, Wizz Air chief executive Jozsef Varadi told delegates at a virtual Arabian Travel Market session that Wizz Air's Abu Dhabi operations will be bigger than expected as it looks to capture a larger share of the budget travel market in the GCC.

The UAE capital is a springboard to gain access to a market of 5 billion people within a six-and-a-half hour flying span, Mr Varadi said.

Wizz Air plans to replicate the success of its European point-to-point short-haul flying business model in the Arab world’s second-biggest economy, he said.

Unlike other carriers, Wizz Air is confident of a resurgence in air travel demand amid the Covid-19-induced slowdown in travel. The airline is among a select few pushing ahead with a fleet expansion plan, saying that its low fares would help it secure market share.