Europe's Wizz Air to fly to four cities from Dubai World Central

Launch customer for Dubai’s $33bn second airport to fly to Budapest, Kiev, Bucharest and Sofia

Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air, one of two carriers to launch commercial services at Dubai’s second airport in October, will initially offer flights to four European destinations.

The airline announced that it would fly from Dubai World Central (DWC) to Budapest (Hungary), Kiev (Ukraine), Bucharest (Romania) and Sofia (Bulgaria) from 28 October, a day after the airport in Jebel Ali officially opens.

One-way fares on the flights will cost from AED349 (US$95), airline officials revealed during a press conference on Wednesday. Wizz Air will service the Budapest and Kiev routes from Dubai four times a week, while the Bucharest and Sofia flights will take place three times a week.

Wizz Air, which carried 12m passengers last year, services 270 routes across 93 European destinations and has 16 hubs in the continent via a fleet of 40 Airbus A320 aircraft. The only other Middle East destination currently operated by the airline is Tel Aviv in Israel.

Speaking at a press conference in Dubai on Wednesday, Wizz Air CEO Joszef Varadi said that the airline hoped to carry 250,000 passengers in its first year and primarily target point-to-point traffic.

The other launch customer for DWC is Saudi Arabia’s nasair. Jamal Al Hai, Dubai Airports executive vice president for international relations and communications, told reporters that the company had been “getting applications every month from new airlines” to move to DWC.

Al Hai confirmed that Dubai's Emirates Airline, the Middle East's largest carrier, currently had no firm plans to move to the hub. "When they want to move, they [will] move," he said. "It is the choice of Emirates to move to the airport. When? I cannot say. We leave it to them to decide."

Al Hai added that Emirates could potentially split operations between Dubai's two airports. "Emirates may split operations, this may happen."

Al Hai said that it was a similar decision for flydubai, a budget carrier based in the emirate, which had yet to make up its mind on moving to the facility.

The passenger terminal at the $33bn Dubai World Central - also known as Al Maktoum International Airport - was completed in 2012. The current facility has one A380-capable runway, 64 remote aircraft stands, and has capacity for up to seven million passengers a year.

Upon completion, Dubai World Central will become the world’s largest airport with five runways and an ultimate capacity of 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo per annum.

The emirate’s existing airport, Dubai International Airport (DIA), is in the middle of a $7.8bn expansion programme. This month, it became the second-biggest airport in the world in terms of international passengers, according to data from Airports Council International (ACI).

In January, DIA opened an A380-specific terminal, Concourse 3, and it is also refurbishing Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.

The plan is for all existing operations at DIA, including Emirates, to be shifted over to Dubai World Central, although the date for that is unclear.

Other Gulf airports are also undergoing significant expansion plans, with Abu Dhabi currently building its Midfield Terminal. Qatar’s $15.5bn Hamad International Airport, which has been delayed on several occasions, was due to open earlier this week. However, that launch has been delayed for an unknown period due to safety concerns.

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