Dubai: European low-cost carrier Wizz Air confidently entered the Dubai aviation market on the Sunday operating the inaugural passenger flight from Al Maktoum International to Budapest in Hungary.
József Váradi, Chief Executive Officer of Wizz Air, said the expansion to Dubai – its first Middle East destination – was “business as usual” for the Hungarian no-frills airline.
Wizz Air is now flying from Al Maktoum International in Dubai World Central to Budapest, Bucharest, Kiev, and Sofia. In a press release, the airline said flights on the four routes start from €59.99 (Dh305) and connect to more than 80 routes from the four destinations in Central and Eastern Europe.
“Today we are here to celebrate the opening of the very first flight to Dubai,” Váradi said speaking to Gulf News on the side of the opening.
Along with catering to Central and European customers traveling to Dubai, Wizz Air will look to create a network for the Dubai market to enter Europe through its low fare infrastructure.
On current Dubai-to-Central and Eastern European flights Wizz Air will have the capacity to carry 200,000 passengers each year. The European carrier flew 12 million passengers last year and expects that number to increase this year.
There are no signs just yet on where Wizz Air will fly to next from its new Dubai destination. Váradi said any discussions at this stage were “premature” but the airline would “keeping looking at opportunities.”
“Now as we have made it to Dubai we ask the question how further east can go,” he said.
Wizz Air is currently the only European-based low cost carrier flying into the United Arab Emirates but is set to compete with Dubai-based carrier flydubai to fly to several destinations on Wizz Air’s network including Dubai-to-Bucharest and Dubai-to-Kiev.
Speaking at press conference at the opening of Al Maktoum International on Sunday Váradi ruled out following other budget carriers – including flydubai – in offering a hybrid model.
Váradi said he believed the airlines low cost; no frills business model would gain significant interest in Dubai.
“We’re seeing Dubai as a very significant market,” he said.
Wizz Air confirmed its order for 26 A321-200s at Sunday press conference. Váradi said the airline would start taking delivery of its new fleet in 2016. Whilst he said that new aircraft had not been committed to any routes just yet he did say that Dubai would be a “good candidate.”