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Wizz Air applies for AOC for new Abu Dhabi carrier

Posted 3 March 2020 · Add Comment

Budapest-based low cost carrier Wizz Air has begun the process of obtaining an air operator’s certificate from the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority for a new subsidiary, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.

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Wizz Air is Eastern Europe’s biggest discount airline and began operations from Katowice airport in 2004. Today Wizz Air flies to more than 600 routes from 25 European airports and employs 3,000 people.
The airline has announced that it has “concluded the definitive agreement” with its joint venture partner, the State-owned Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company to set up the new airline, calling this a “major milestone” on the road to launching operations from the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi in the second half of 2020. Current plans predict a launch in the third quarter of 2020.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will be 51 percent Abu Dhabi owned, and will begin operations with a fleet of three new Airbus A321neos, with the fleet planned to increase to 50 aircraft over ten years.
Wizz Air says that the new airline will be “a significant player in the region.” But though it will aim to bring “low fares paired with a high-quality on-board experience”, it will be a budget airline, competing with other new low cost carriers like Air Arabia Abu Dhabi (a joint venture between Abu Dhabi flag carrier Etihad Airways and Sharjah’s low-cost airline, Air Arabia), which it will operate alongside at Abu Dhabi International Airport. Indian budget airline SpiceJet is also launching a new UAE-based budget airline in Ras al-Khaimah. These new carriers will bolster air links from Abu Dhabi, where flag-carrier Etihad cut many routes after suffering heavy losses, and may help the newly expanded Abu Dhabi airport become a busier regional hub, perhaps eventually rivalling Dubai.
Low-cost carriers are experiencing rapid growth in the Middle East market. They accounted for an 8% share of seat capacity to and from the Middle East in 2009, rising to 17% in 2018. European LCCs have turned their attentions to the south east as their own home markets have become increasingly saturated, but have usually had to find local partners in order to register a new airline in the region.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has yet to unveil its planned route network but is initially expected to focus on Wizz Air’s strongest and fastest growing markets in Central and Eastern Europe, with plans to target the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Asia and Africa.
Tourism is a key pillar in Abu Dhabi’s growth strategy, and the Emirate achieved a record high of 11.35 million visitors last year. There has been significant investment in airport and tourist infrastructure, including hotels, resorts and cultural attractions, and Abu Dhabi is also working to make itself more attractive to businesses, too, through programmes like the AED 50 Bn (US $13.6 Bn) Ghadan 21 investment programme.
Airlines like Wizz Air promise to provide the connectivity that will enable more people to visit Abu Dhabi easily and affordably.
Wizz Air chief executive officer, József Váradi, said that: “Wizz Air’s mission feeds into Abu Dhabi’s diversified economic strategy as we aim to stimulate traffic by creating demand to the benefit of growing Abu Dhabi’s touristic and economic diversity. We look forward to welcoming passengers on board our young, green and ultra-efficient fleet.”



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