A trip to the Indian Ocean paradise of the Maldives has traditionally been viewed as a once-in-a-lifetime holiday destination, typically reserved for special occasions like honeymoons, anniversaries and landmark birthdays.
Unsurprisingly, getting to the remote Maldivian Archipelago has never been cheap and most tourists are willing to spend big bucks for flights and accommodation.
European low-cost airline Wizz Air, however, is looking to muscle in on the action and is hoping to woo a new set of tourists to the Maldives who are willing to forego traditional airline luxuries to save some precious dollars.
The Hungarian budget carrier operates a fleet of single-aisle Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft in high-density configurations, so there’s no chance of these planes being able to fly direct from Europe to the Maldives.
But it is technically possible to fly all the way from the Icelandic capital of Reykjavík to the Maldives because Wizz Air opened a Persian Gulf subsidiary in Abu Dhabi last year. Wizz Air intends to serve Male four times per week from Abu Dhabi starting in October.
That means passengers could if they really wanted, fly for four and a half hours from Reykjavík to Budapest, connect onto a nearly six-hour flight to Abu Dhabi and then jump on a third Wizz Air flight for the final 4 hours and 15 minutes of your journey to the Maldives.
During those flights, passengers would obviously be expected to purchase all food and drink themselves, while enduring non-reclinable seats with just 28″ of pitch.
Wizz Air first announced its intention to open a base in Abu Dhabi just before the pandemic grounded flights in early 2020. The plans had to be put on hold but the airline, which has been set up in partnership with a local investment company, eventually started operations last January.
The carrier currently only operates four aircraft from its Abu Dhabi base but plans to add a fifth in time for the launch of service to the Maldives. From October, the airline will serve 34 destinations from Abu Dhabi alone.
The Budapest-based carrier is also in talks with Saudi Arabia to open a subsidiary in the Kingdom, while Wizz Air continues to expand at pace across Europe.
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.