Wizz Air Announces Expansion to Iraq

Wizz Air

Wizz Air, a Hungarian low-cost carrier, has announced its expansion to Iraq with the launch of its first flights to Erbil, in the Kurdistan region of the country. The twice-weekly flights will be served by the airline’s Abu Dhabi unit, bringing the Wizz Air Group’s Middle East destination list to 15 airports in eight countries. The route, which covers 1,003 miles (1,614 km), will begin on October 6th.

Flight Schedule and Aircraft Type

The flight schedule for the Abu Dhabi to Erbil route is as follows:

  • Abu Dhabi to Erbil: 5W7155, 08:35-10:50 (3h 15m block)
  • Erbil to Abu Dhabi: 5W7156, 11:25-15:00 (2h 35m)

According to a dummy booking made at 04:45 EST on July 21st, the aircraft expected to be used for the route has 30 rows, which corresponds to the Airbus A320 and not the A321. The carrier uses eight 239-seat A321neos and three 230-seat A321ceos. It is unclear whether the A320 will join the unit’s fleet or if it is an error.

Wizz Air
Image via GCMap

Erbil: Last Served in 2015

Abu Dhabi-Erbil was last operated between June 2010 and April 2015 by Etihad Airways. In 2019, the route was unserved, and very few passengers flew indirectly, perhaps due to the Qatar blockade and Qatar Airways’ inability to serve the UAE. There were few alternative routings without a lot of backtracking.

However, the wider UAE-Erbil market is estimated to have had 170,000 passengers flying from Dubai and Sharjah, nearly all non-stop. It is unclear how many of these traveled to/from Abu Dhabi, but Wizz Air is confident in growing the market, which is essential to the development of most low-cost carriers.

UAE to Erbil: October 2023

As of October 2023, Wizz Air will be one of five airlines operating between the UAE and Erbil, with 21 weekly flights between them. These include daily flights by flydubai and Air Arabia, three weekly flights by Iraqi Airways, and twice-weekly flights by Fly Baghdad.

Air Arabia Abu Dhabi had planned to launch the Erbil route on September 15th, a month before Wizz Air. However, the route has been removed from OAG and Air Arabia’s website, and it appears likely that Wizz Air’s announcement of Erbil follows Air Arabia’s decision to pull it, even before it launched.

Wizz Air
Image via Wizz Air

Wizz Air’s expansion to Iraq with the launch of its Erbil flights is a significant development for the airline’s Middle East operations. With the addition of the Erbil route, Wizz Air’s Abu Dhabi unit now serves 15 airports in eight countries in the region. While the wider UAE-Erbil market is estimated to have had 170,000 passengers flying from Dubai and Sharjah, Wizz Air is confident in growing the market and providing more affordable travel options for passengers.

Do you think the addition of the Erbil route will benefit Wizz Air’s Middle East operations?

Also, you might be interested in reading: Emirates Launches Dubai-Montreal Flights, Expands Canada-UAE Market

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