Kees van Schaick, Managing Director at Wizz Air Abu Dhabi
Kees van Schaick, Managing Director at Wizz Air Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will stick to its plan of adding 25 aircraft to its fleet over the next five years, said Kees Van Schaick, Managing Director of Wizz Air.

Indigo Partners, the owner of Europe’s Wizz Air, announced an order for 255 additional A321neo aircraft at the Dubai Airshow 2021 on Sunday. The order, which includes 102 aircraft for Wizz Air, is valued at $33 billion at current list prices. “Wizz Air Abu Dhabi hopes to take its fair share of that order for fueling its growth plans, say around 25 aircraft in the next five years - that’s still the ambition,” said Van Schaick on the sidelines of the Dubai Air Show.

Stock - Wizz Air
Wizz Air made the definitive purchase at the Dubai Air Show 2021, with $33 billion.

The Airshow’s biggest order also included 27 A321XLR aircraft and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is counting on adding some of those to the fleet. These longer-range models will allow the budget airline to operate to popular destinations in Western Europe. “The crew can operate at a five-hour distance from Abu Dhabi and come back again the same day,” said Van Schaick. With the XLR, “that number will become seven hours and we’ll be able to reach Western Europe, Africa and the Indian Subcontinent.”

This will translate to more flights and 10-12 routes per aircraft, said the Wizz Air executive. “We will also increase frequencies per week.”

What is the XLR?

The A321XLR is a single-aisle, narrow-body aircraft with a typical two-class capacity of 180-200. When it comes to range, it has the highest of any narrow-body – up of 8,700 kilometers. The standard A321neo has a range of just under 6,000 kilometers. The aircraft, which suffered some delays in production and deliveries during the pandemic, remains on course for first delivery in 2023.

New facility

Wizz Air will “team up” with Abu Dhabi’s soon-to-be launched Midfield Terminal to provide “wonderful” customer experience, said Van Schaick. Part of Abu Dhabi’s plans to boost tourism, the Midfield Terminal is expected to double the number of passengers landing in the emirate every year. “We hope it will be ready sooner than later,” said Van Schaick.

In 2019, the number of passenger arrivals at the Abu Dhabi International Airport was about 10 million people.

India ambitions

India could be a huge market for Wizz Air. Air services to and from India to the UAE account for around 30 per cent of all international capacity from India, making it one of the busiest air corridors in the world.

“It’s one of the markets that we would love to kind of grow into and connect - these are markets that are not ‘open skies’ markets today or fully liberalized,” said Robert Carey, Wizz Air’s President in an earlier interview. “We would aspire to serve this market in the near future.”