Charting Trends: Wizz Air Abu Dhabi JV helps the LCC focus outside core European markets


They say 'a picture paints a thousand words'.

In this new regular report CAPA - Centre for Aviation provides an insight on latest industry trends, using data from its extensive databases.

Looking at latest capacity trends, fleet changes, interior innovations or latest airline and airport developments, the 'Charting Trends' report will offer a weekly observation on air travel.

This week we look at the wider network opportunities available to Central and European LCC specialist Wizz Air via its Wizz Air Abu Dhabi JV.

  • Wizz Air focusing on wider network opportunities through Wizz Air Abu Dhabi JV.
  • Western Europe remains a key focus for Wizz Air, with Italy and the UK as top markets.
  • Albania emerging as a growth market for Wizz Air, with LCCs dominating the sector.
  • Middle East and Asia becoming integral parts of Wizz Air's network expansion.
  • Wizz Air Abu Dhabi's strategic growth and fleet development plans.
  • Analysis of top stations and routes for Wizz Air, including key destinations in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Western Europe the main focus for Wizz Air

Wizz Air has called itself the 'leading airline in Central and Eastern Europe'. But with a long-standing business model that has been based on transporting workers around and visiting friends and family, connections to western European markets have been key to the airline's development strategy.

Data from CAPA - Centre for Aviation and OAG for the week commencing 22-Jan-2024 show that Western European markets account for 47.4% of its seats, with Italy and United Kingdom its largest country markets and London Luton Airport its largest network point.

Albania has been a recent market for growth

That is not the full story though, as the data also highlights an increasing focus from Wizz Air on the Albanian market, on Southeastern Europe's Balkan Peninsula - one that is proving particularly popular with LCCs.

More than three quarters of seats (79.9%) in the analysis week are provided by LCCs, with Wizz Air, the country's largest airline, having a 58.2% capacity share; its rival Ryanair is ranked second, with a 17.9% share. Albania's own airlines Air Albania and Albawings have just 8.0% and 4.0% shares, respectively.

Middle East and Asia now developing part of Wizz Air network

Now, the Middle East is a developing part of its network and is helping to expand the Wizz Air brand into Asia.

It is now just over three years since the Wizz Air Abu Dhabi business launched operations from Abu Dhabi International Airport. The company is a joint venture with the state-owned Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company (ADQ). The Emirati business owns 51%, while Wizz Air Holdings owns the remaining 49%.

Flights were launched in Nov-2020, with two Airbus A321neo aircraft, and the fleet could rise to over 50 aircraft in the next few years - even growing beyond 100 units in the future. According to the CAPA - Centre for Aviation Fleet Database it currently operates 12 A321s, comprising seven A321ceo and five A321neo variants.

The growing importance of the airline's operations and the Abu Dhabi base to the wider Wizz Air operation is evident in the following chart.

The chart shows that although the Middle East may only account for 6.2% of capacity in this analysis week, Abu Dhabi is its sixth largest network point - behind the aforementioned London Luton, Tirana Rinas airports and Rome Fiumicino, Bucharest Henri Coanda, and Budapest Ferenc Liszt airports.

Wizz Air: top ten stations (week commencing 22-Jan-2024)

Although Central and Eastern European markets account for the greatest share of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi's regional capacity in the analysis week, new markets for Wizz Air dominate the country listing - notably Saudi Arabia, where the airline serves Dammam and Madinah, and Oman, where Muscat is its sole destination.

Interestingly, in the analysis week the Abu Dhabi-Muscat route is the second busiest of all Wizz Air's routes, behind only its long-standing London Luton-Bucharest Henri Coanda connection.

Routes linking Abu Dhabi to Baku and Yerevan also make the top ten list.

Wizz Air: top ten routes (week commencing 22-Jan-2024)

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi also serves Iraq (Erbil), Jordan (Amman) and Kuwait, as well as three destinations in Egypt (Alexandria, Cairo and Sohag), while its network also expands in Central Asia (including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia), and even as far afield as the Maldives.

The new Emirati venture celebrated its third anniversary in Nov-2023. In those three years it has certainly enabled Wizz Air to expand its coverage into new areas.

This week's report has been produced using data available to CAPA - Centre for Aviation members. The charts are taken from the CAPA - Centre for Aviation combined schedules analysis tool - available to all CAPA members and a resource where users can customise search parameters via a variety of metrics.

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