Wizz Air’s Abu Dhabi Unit Grows Network, US Rejects Cargo Plans For Now
Wizz Air’s Abu Dhabi-based carrier is adding two more destinations to its network, while the Hungarian group’s application for US approval for transatlantic cargo operations has been rejected.
The Maldives and Kuwait are the latest destinations to be added to Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s network, with flights scheduled to begin in October.
The first of the two new routes to launch will start on Oct. 4, operating from Abu Dhabi International (AUH) to Male (MLE) in the Maldives. Flights will be four times per week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays using Airbus A321neo aircraft.
Male will become the ULCC’s first destination in South Asia and the route will provide direct competition for Etihad Airways, which serves the sector daily with Boeing 787-9s.
Mattala in Sri Lanka was set to become Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s inaugural South Asia route, but flights were pulled before they started amid the ongoing economic crisis in the country.
The airline’s second new route planned for the northern winter season will link Abu Dhabi with Kuwait City (KWI), the capital of Kuwait. Service will launch on Oct. 30 and operate daily, also using A321neos.
Etihad currently serves AUH-KWI seven times per week using a mix of A320, A321 and 787-9 aircraft and the latest schedules filed with OAG shows the carrier plans to increase frequencies to double-daily at the start of the winter 2022/23 season.
In addition, Kuwait Airways is also scheduled to resume operations between the destinations Nov. 3 after a hiatus of more than two years. Flights will be twice a week using A320s.
“With the arrival of our fifth Airbus aircraft in October, we are delighted to enhance connectivity with our neighbour countries across the GCC with flights to Kuwait, as well as providing our customers with affordable flights to the Maldives,” Wizz Air development officer Owain Jones said.
Separately, the US Transportation Department (DOT) has rejected an application by Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s Hungarian parent company Wizz Air for a foreign air carrier permit citing a “safety oversight.”
The group applied in January to fly to the US using an Airbus A330 freighter aircraft owned by the Hungarian government and operated by the airline. At the time, it said the request was to “secure any possible future commercial cargo operations to and from the US.”
However, the DOT has dismissed Wizz Air’s application, saying that the FAA has advised that it “cannot make a determination at this time as to whether the safety oversight of Wizz Air Hungary is sufficient to support the award of economic authority to the applicant.”
“In order to determine the delineation of safety oversight responsibility for Wizz Air Hungary and to be in a position to make a safety recommendation to the department, the FAA intends to seek further information about the nature of the safety oversight arrangement between the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Hungary,” the DOT added.
The department said that Wizz Air may refile its application pending the FAA determination regarding the safety oversight.