Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has suspended plans to resume flights to Moscow amid mounting criticism over its decision to relaunch the route. The airline said the flights would be postponed until further notice.
On its press statement released on Friday August 19th, Wizz Air made no mention of the criticism received on social media, which included some calls to boycott the airline, but referred only to “industry supply chain limitations”, without specifying what those limitations were.
On Twitter, the airline responded to the criticism by saying the flight would be operated by its Abu Dhabi company, which is a UAE-registered airline operating in accordance with the Gulf state’s regulations. Other UAE airlines were operating in Russia, it added.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi regrets to inform its customers that the airline has had to postpone the start date of its flight to Moscow until further noticeWizz Air
Earlier this month, the airline had announced the resumption of operations to the Russian capital with daily flights starting October 3rd at fares as low as 359 dirhams (about 97 euros). By flying from Abu Dhabi, the airline had allegedly found a way to bypass the ban imposed on European airlines, which in practice did not allow them to operate routes to and from Russia. Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is a subsidiary of Hungarian based Wizz Air, founded in 2019. Wizz Air holds airline operating certificates (AOCs) in Britain and Hungary.
The majority of the Emirati company belongs to the state-owned Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company (ADQ), while Wizz only has 49% shares, so the subsidiary does not have to comply European regulations. Soon after announcing the restart of the flights to Russia, Wizz Air has also revealed it would offer 100,000 free tickets to Ukrainian citizens, available over 800 routes operated by the airline.
“Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s ultra-low fare domestic carrier, regrets to inform its customers that the airline has had to postpone the start date of its flight operations from Abu Dhabi to Moscow until further notice due to industry supply chain constraints,” the carrier said in a statement.
The airline is offering cash refunds, among other options, to passengers who have booked tickets. “Passengers booked on these flights will be contacted by email and presented with their options for refunds in the original payment method or 120 percent of the ticket fare in WIZZ credit to be used for WIZZ flights and services, all possible directly through their customer accounts on wizzair.com,” it added.
Crisis public relations consultant Mark Borkowski told CNN that Wizz’ decision to restart flights to Russia is a risky one, as customers might not fully understand, or care about, the difference between the airline and its subsidiary. Boycotts have already started online with people saying they are cancelling their reservations.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi operates services to 34 destinations, including Alexandria (Egypt), Almaty (Kazakhstan), Amman (Jordan), Aqaba (Jordan), Athens (Greece), Baku (Azerbaijan), Belgrade (Serbia), Dammam (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait City (Kuwait), Kutaisi (Georgia), Manama (Bahrain), Malé (Maldives), Muscat (Oman), Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan), Salalah (Oman), Santorini (Greece), Sarajevo (Bosnia), Sohag (Egypt), Tel-Aviv (Israel), Tirana (Albania) and Yerevan (Armenia), among others.