Abu Dhabi will have two low-cost airlines by mid-2020 after European discounter Wizz Air announced on Thursday that it planned to open its first subsidiary outside of Europe. The announcement from Wizz Air comes just a couple of months after Etihad and Sharjah-based LCC Air Arabia laid out their plans to create a budget carrier called Air Arabia Abu Dhabi.
Etihad and Air Arabia hope to launch their joint enterprise at some point in the second quarter of 2020 and they are expected to reveal more details about the carrier in the next couple of months. Meanwhile, Wizz Air will launch its Middle East subsidiary by mid-2020 as part of a partnership with Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company.
“We believe the new airline has the potential to be a significant player in the region,” explained József Váradi, Chief Executive Officer of Wizz Air Holdings.
“Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will be an incremental path of growth for Wizz Air, built on our successful ultra-low-cost business model, bringing affordable travel to ever more customers,” Váradi continued.
The new airline will focus initially on establishing routes to Wizz Air’s existing destinations in Central and Eastern, as well as Western Europe. In the future, the airline plans to open up new routes to the Indian subcontinent, Middle East and even Africa.
“Wizz Air believes that the establishment of a truly ultra-low-cost airline in Abu Dhabi can contribute to the continued growth of Abu Dhabi as a world-class cultural and tourist destination,” the airline said in a statement. The new carrier will operate a fleet of Airbus A321neo aircraft but the operation is still subject to approvals and consents.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is yet to obtain an Air Operators Certificate from the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority.
Air Arabia was forced to deny rumours that its operation in Abu Dhabi would be used to take over low-yield routes such as in India from its full-service partner.
“We are disappointed that distorted statements are made without any basis and disclaim any merit to the false report,” the airline said in a statement issued in early November.
Tony Douglas, chief executive of the Etihad Aviation Group said the partnership would support the airline’s transformation programme as it looks to slash costs and get back into the black.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.