Saudi Arabia is becoming an ever-more important market for Wizz Air. The ultra-low-cost airline announced the launch of twenty new routes between Europe and Saudi Arabia from December to July next year on August 25. Wizz Air gets serious about Saudi Arabian expansion.
The new services will still be operated by the Hungarian parent airline, although Wizz will most likely launch an airline with a Saudi Air Operator Certificate (AOC) in the not too distant future, CEO Jozsef Varadi confirmed to Reuters. In May, the airline signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Investment to explore the options of creating a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia. This is part of the country’s Vision 2030 to develop the tourist sector, for which the Kingdom plans to invest heavily in existing and new Saudi airlines.
The twenty new routes will be offered from Budapest, Bucharest, Sofia, and Tirana in Wizz’s core Central Eastern European market, as well as from markets that the airline is developing. This includes Italy (Rome, Milan, Naples, Catania, Venice), Austria (Vienna), and Cyprus (Larnaca). Destinations in Saudi Arabia are Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam. Tickets are already on sale.
Flights to Dammam were already announced in June from Rome from September 28 and from Vienna two days later. Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will serve Dammam from November 1. The first service of the newly announced routes will be Milan-Jeddah on December 3, with Rome-Riyadh and Vienna-Jeddah also scheduled for December. More flights will be rolled out in January. Services from Cyprus are the last ones to be added in July. Still to be confirmed is Tirana (Albania) to Dammam from April 17 as it awaits regulatory approval.
For Saudi Arabia, the announcement is big news, said Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO and member of the Board of the Saudi Tourism Authority in a media statement: “Today’s announcement of 20 new routes to Saudi is one of the largest such announcements anywhere in the world. It is a real first for Wizz Air and for Saudi, and opens a new and affordable gateway for visitors from Europe that will allow everyone to come and explore the world’s most exciting new destination.”
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.