Wednesday, June 16, 2021

From Zero To Hero? Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s Swift Growth

Wizz Air has announced a further four routes from Abu Dhabi, including three to Greece, taking its total route network from the UAE capital to 29. This summer, three airlines will have up to nine weekly departures from the UAE to Mykonos – from zero before coronavirus started. We take a look at what’s happening.

Three more routes to Greek islands are coming, helped by gaps in its schedule and the travel corridor between the UAE and Greece. Photo: Wizz Air.

Wizz Air’s four new routes, shown below, follow the recent inauguration of Abu Dhabi to Belgrade, and they come days after Santorini and Chișinău were both revealed.

  1. Baku (Azerbaijan); twice-weekly from September 4th
  2. Chania; twice-weekly from July 9th until September 10th
  3. Mykonos; twice-weekly from July 7th until September 12th
  4. Rhodes; twice-weekly from July 12th until September 10th

Of course, most Greek routes are heavily summer-seasonal, with the delayed launch of other routes from Abu Dhabi enabling these to begin and capitalize on at least some peak demand.

Wizz Air has served the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, from Budapest for years. Image: Wizz Air.

Why Greece?

The launch of the new Greece routes follows a travel corridor established in May between the country and the UAE. Now, passengers holding vaccination certificates issued by health authorities can travel between the nations without having to quarantine on arrival. No wonder Wizz Air has focused on the country, along with Etihad Airways and flydubai.

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi (IATA code 5W) recently began Belgrade. On June 6th, it had a flight time to the Serbian capital of five hours and 17 minutes. Image: RadarBox.com.

Etihad and flydubai also add routes

Etihad Airways has announced Mykonos and Santorini from its Abu Dhabi hub in the past couple of days. Both will operate twice-weekly using A320s, and both will be head-to-head with Wizz Air, although they’ll target somewhat different passengers. However, the ultra-low-cost-carrier (ULCC) will start sooner, one day before in the case of Mykonos.

Meanwhile, flydubai will launch Dubai-Mykonos on June 18th, with this route increasing to five-weekly in July. It will codeshare with Emirates, with the schedule falling nicely into Emirates’ key arrival/departure banks for connectivity. The two carriers are now “almost a merger”.

From $155 return for Abu Dhabi to Mykonos at the end of July. Image: Wizz Air.

Greek island demand is not large

This summer, there will be three non-stop routes from the UAE to Mykonos. However, demand from UAE to the Greek islands is not large. In 2019, Mykonos, for example, had fewer than 5,000 round-trip point-to-point (P2P) passengers, according to booking data from OAG Traffic Analyzer.

The vast bulk of this traffic was naturally in the peak summer. While three carriers are clearly a lot, demand will be helped by low-frequency services for the peak only, demand being redistributed from harder-to-visit places, and Etihad and flydubai also targeting transit passengers.

There will now be up to nine weekly departures from the UAE to Mykonos with three airlines. In 2019: none. Photo: Wizz Air.

Wizz Air has 29 routes from Abu Dhabi

Wizz Air now has 29 routes from Abu Dhabi across 17 countries, its website shows. These routes use aircraft from both the Group’s Abu Dhabi unit, which exclusively operates 239-seat A321neos, and from the original Wizz Air Hungary. Abu Dhabi has been crucial in Wizz Air’s airport network growing so much this year.

Wizz Air’s 29 routes from Abu Dhabi have an average sector length of a long 1,822 miles. This obviously means fewer sectors per aircraft per day, which is somewhat counterbalanced by 239 seats per flight. Image: GCMap.

52 departures in the first week of September

While it may change, Wizz Air currently has 52 weekly departures bookable from Abu Dhabi in the first week of September. Some 20 of the 29 routes are bookable then, as shown below. Only Tel Aviv will be seven-weekly. Like most of the ULCC’s European network, emphasis is on low-frequency and often twice-weekly P2P services.

Abu Dhabi to… Departures in the first week of September Departures in the first week of October
Alexandria 3 3
Almaty 2 2
Athens 2 3
Baku 2 2
Bari 0 2
Belgrade 2 2
Bucharest 2 2
Budapest 1 2
Catania 0 2
Chania 2 0
Chișinău 3 2
Cluj-Napoca 0 1
Katowice 0 2
Kutaisi 0 2
Kyiv Boryspil 3 3
Larnaca 2 2
Luxor 2 2
Muscat 3 3
Mykonos 2 0
Nur Sultan 2 2
Odesa 2 2
Rhodes 2 0
Salalah 2 2
Santorini 2 0
Sofia 0 2
Sohag 2 2
Tel Aviv 7 7
Thessaloniki 2 2
Yerevan 0 2

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