Hungarian Ultra-low-cost carrier (ULLC) Wizz Air is exploring flights to Saudi Arabia as part of a new Middle East expansion plan.
Saudi wants to triple passenger intake
Wizz Air announced yesterday that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Ministry of Investment looking into “airline market development opportunities” within the country. The MoU is in line with Saudi Arabia’s ambitious plans to triple the number of passengers arriving in the country by 2030.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is already an important destination for religious pilgrims, but the Saudi government is keen to increase its tourist industry as well. In 2021, the kingdom received around 62 million tourists, a number they are hoping will increase to 70 million this year. To achieve this goal, the government is investing in a number of tourist projects, including the development of the Red Sea area into resorts. The new projects are likely to increase the demand for airline passengers.
Wizz ventures East
Wizz Air also has its eyes set on expansion. The Hungarian-based airline, which formerly only focused on flights within Europe, is now looking to expand its reach to other continents. In 2019, the carrier established a new airline called Wizz Air Abu Dhabi as a joint venture with the state-owned Abu Dhabi Development Holding Company.
The new airline was Wizz Air’s first base outside of Europe. Commenting on the new base, Wizz Air CEO József Váradi said he saw the centre of aviation moving from west to east as airports in Western Europe became more crowded and expensive. The MoU with Saudi Arabia will mark another step east for the rapidly expanding ULLC.
Last year, Váradi was offered a £100 million bonus if he could increase the company’s share price to £120 by 2026. The price is currently £30. Expansion into the Middle Eastern market could create the growth that Váradi is looking for.
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