Wizz Air CEO says joint venture with ADQ will take off later this year with six aircraft
European low-cost airline Wizz Air is to move its UAE operations to Abu Dhabi ahead of the launch of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi later this year.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will launch with six aircraft – double the amount originally intended – according to the chief executive officer of Hungary-based carrier Wizz Air.
And while the Covid-19 pandemic has created a huge black hole in the aviation industry, Jozsef Varadi has revealed that the launch date of the new budget airline, operating out of the UAE capital, is going ahead as scheduled for later this year.
Varadi said: “We are looking at a larger scale start versus what we originally contemplated. We would be looking at a six aircraft start in the first six months.”
The joint venture with Abu Dhabi state holding company (ADQ) will take to the skies in October, with destinations across Europe, the Indian subcontinent, Middle East and Africa.
In a webinar session as part of the Virtual ATM (Arabian Travel Market) event, Varadi revealed that the low-cost Wizz Air, which previously operated out of Dubai, would be moving to Abu Dhabi and that flights would be resuming “in the next ten to 14 days”.
He said: “We think that Abu Dhabi airport will open up earlier than Dubai (DWC). And we think that, given our strategic initiative in Abu Dhabi, we should be showing up in Abu Dhabi. This is happening in the next few days.”
At the end of April, the International Air Traffic Association (IATA) estimated that industry passenger revenues could plummet $252 billion this year – 44 percent below 2019’s figure.
Both Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways have recently announced plans for redundancies as the impact of over two months’ of grounded passenger aircraft takes its toll.
However, Varadi remained bullish about the future. He said: “As a matter of fact, it’s even increased our appetite, given the situation, as we’ve seen competition is getting weaker here or there.”
He added: “This is an initiative that will take us to probably the scale of Wizz Air Hungry in the same period. So if you look at the numbers, Wizz Air Hungary made it to about 100 aircraft in 15 years and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will also make it to 100 aircraft in 15 years as well, if not more.”
Varadi also revealed ambitions to expand the network of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi across the GCC.
He said: “We can capture five billion of the world’s population within a radius of six and a half hours from Abu Dhabi. We think it represents plenty of opportunities for the airline to develop its network. We’re going to start that initiative commercially within a few weeks, and operationally, we will be up in the air towards the end of the year as planned.”
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