The latest addition to the UAE’s increasingly competitive low-cost carrier portfolio has plans to operate more than 50 A321neo aircraft in the Middle East within 10 years, Wizz Air’s chief has revealed.
Wizz Air announced late last year that it will launch a new budget airline in Abu Dhabi in the second-half of 2020, after it signed a deal with Abu Dhabi Development Holding (ADDH).
The new airline will become the UAE’s fifth budget carrier and will intensify competition on European routes as well as rival other low-cost operators.
Commenting on the company’s third quarter earnings, Wizz Air’s CEO, József Váradi, said that the airline can be “a significant player in the region”.
Mr Váradi said: “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.
“We believe the new airline which is expected to be operational in the second half of 2020 has the potential to be a significant player in the region operating over 50 aircraft within ten years.”
He added: “I think Abu Dhabi is a unique opportunity for Wizz. I mean, structurally, we are very excited about opportunities going further east and we are more excited going further east than going west.”
Wizz Air’s third quarter earnings showed a record profit in the three months to the end of December. It netted a pre-tax profit of $24.6 million compared to a loss of $23.3 million in the same period in 2018.
Wizz Air’s announcement in 2019 came just two months after Air Arabia and Etihad Airways unveiled a new low-cost venture based in Abu Dhabi. Indian LCC SpiceJet also revealed it would its first Middle Eastern base in Ras Al Khaimah.
Sharjah's Air Arabia and flydubai make up the remainder of what is an increasingly saturated low-cost market in the UAE.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will initially look to establish routes to areas where the carrier already has a strong presence, such as Europe. In the long-run, the carrier will look to pierce the Indian subcontinent, the wider Middle East and Africa.