Wizz Air Abu Dhabi Expands East With Sri Lanka Entry

Mattala will become the ULCC’s first destination in South Asia.

Credit: Wizz Air

Sri Lanka will become the first South Asian country to be served by Wizz Air Abu Dhabi as the airline begins to look further east for growth.

The carrier, a joint venture between the Hungarian ULCC and Abu Dhabi state holding company ADQ, will begin flying to the town of Mattala in the south of Sri Lanka from June 1. Flights between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Mattala Rajapaksa International (HRI) will be offered three times per week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays using Airbus A321neo aircraft.

“Sri Lanka is an exciting destination that has everything; beautiful beaches, a diverse cultural heritage, historical sites dating back 1,000s of years and even a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site,” Wizz Air Abu Dhabi MD Michael Berlouis said.

Mattala became the country’s first greenfield airport when it opened in March 2013 but has struggled to attract airlines, leading to it being dubbed "the world’s emptiest international airport." OAG Schedules Analyser data shows that there is just one scheduled flight to the airport this week (w/c March 7, 2022), with Maldivian flying from Male (MLE).

The latest schedules also indicate that Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will be the sole operator of scheduled flights once its new route launches in June as Maldivian’s weekly service is set to end later this month.

However, Sri Lanka’s government is making a concerted effort to increase traffic at Mattala, in particular targeting tourists from Central Asia.

For Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, Mattala will become the furthest point east in its network. As well as attracting leisure traffic, the airline will target the flows of migrant labor between Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). An estimated 250,000 Sri Lankans live and work in the UAE.