Budget carrier Wizz Air has teamed up with a state-run holding company in the United Arab Emirates to launch its first non-European airline.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will launch towards the end of next year, flying to central, eastern and western Europe. But in time it will link up with airports on the Indian subcontinent, Middle East and Africa.
“We believe the new airline has the potential to be a significant player in the region,” chief executive Jozsef Varadi said.
It is hoping to take some business at the busy hub, which is often used as a stop-off for passengers travelling to Asia or Africa from Europe, and vice-versa.
The venture has already cleared a hurdle in the Gulf state, teaming up with Abu Dhabi Development Holding Company (ADDH), a state-backed venture which holds the country’s airports, ports and energy companies.
It could also put the company in competition with Abu Dhabi’s national carrier Emirates. However, budget carrier Wizz Air generally serves a different market to the higher-end airline.
It will use a fleet of Airbus A321neo planes, the business said.
“As Abu Dhabi International Airport continues its growth as a major gateway to the UAE and the wider region, we welcome contribution airlines, such as this new airline, and the impact this partnership will make to our continued national economic development. We look forward to building a highly successful partnership with them in the years to come,” said Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, the chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports.
Mohamed Hassan Al Suwaid, chief executive of SHHD, said: “Through our partnership with Wizz Air, we aim to capitalise on the growing demand for budget travel and support the continued growth of Abu Dhabi as a world-class cultural and tourist destination.”
The Hungarian airline has continued to grow, posting higher net profit forecasts last month. An 18% jump in passenger numbers has helped, the company said, offsetting a 1.8% rise in fuel prices.