Wizz Air plans to expand to India and Africa after the pandemic

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Wizz Air plans to expand to India and Africa as pandemic-related travel restrictions continue in Europe, its chief executive József Váradi said during an online conference. "We are no longer just a European airline," he said at an online event at the April 23 World Aviation Festival.

Once the passenger aviation markets reopen, the low-cost pan-European carrier can expand "possible over time" in Africa, he explained, while Asia is also a "possible" target. www.ch-aviation.com.

Wizz Air, Wizz Air UK and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi - Wizz Air Holdings

Wizz Air (W6, Budapest) already operates in the United Arab Emirates, with services to Dubai from Bucharest Otopeni (3 flights per week), Budapest and Sofia (both with two flights per week), as well as to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion from Bucharest, Budapest, Larnaca, Sofia (all with two weekly flights), Cluj-Napoca, Milan Malpensa, Varna, Vienna and Vilnius (one weekly flight on each route).

Meanwhile, its subsidiary Wizz Air Abu Dhabi (5W, Abu Dhabi) received its air operator certificate on 20 October 2020 and launched a network of scheduled flights from Abu Dhabi to Alexandria, Egypt (currently twice a week), Athens, Larnaca, Odessa, Tel Aviv and Thessaloniki.

In a premiere for Wizz Air, he also ventured into the charter niche after Spot Reisen Dubai obtained a contract with the Al Ain football team from the UAE to travel between Al Ain and Riyadh, last month. Looking ahead, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will add flights to Almaty, Kutaisi, Nur-Sultan Nazarbayev and Yerevan in the coming weeks.

The Wizz Air Abu Dhabi project could open several routes to Asian destinations, including India, due to the heavy traffic flow between India and the UAE.

"From the perspective of the United Arab Emirates, India is a market with a huge number of passengers," said József Váradi, but warned: "As for an airline base in India, I would not say that we have an imminent priority in this direction. We do not intend to enter India with an airline or build an operating base, but we are looking at India as a destination."

He summed up that “markets become easily accessible, but this is a long-term process. We'll see exactly how this works."

Váradi added: "We have developed our fleet. We have received 20 new aircraft in a period of one year and another 27 aircraft are scheduled to arrive in the next 12 months."

In addition to the six routes currently operated by Wizz Air Abu Dhabi and the other four that will be launched in the coming weeks, Wizz Air currently operates 366 routes starting in the first week of May. The UK subsidiary Wizz Air (W9, London Luton) operates another 16 routes.

Wizz Air currently operates 122 aircraft: 65 xx A320-200, 6 x A320-200neo, 34 x A321-200, 16 x A321-200neo and a single A330-200F. Wizz Air has orders for 247 aircraft. Wizz Air UK has a fleet of 13 aircraft of its own, while the Abu Dhabi subsidiary has four A321-200neo.

"In two years, we will have the A321XLR, which adds another hour and a half to its flight range," said Váradi. "So if you put the plane in Abu Dhabi and draw a line according to the autonomy of the plane, you will cover five billion people. I think it's an amazing market opportunity."

Wizz Air has 1,6 billion euros ($ 1,9 billion) in liquidity, which should reach almost three years of current levels of cash spending, the chief executive said, so there are no plans to raise other funds.

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