Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s brutal New Maldives flight | Job Binary


Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, a joint venture between Wizz Air and state-owned Abu Dhabi Development Holding, has just opened a new route to the Maldives. However, it is a significantly longer flight than you expected…

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s new route to the Maldives

On Tuesday 4 October 2022, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi launched its new flight between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Male (MLE). The route is operated by an Airbus A321neo with the following schedule:

5W7105 from Abu Dhabi to Male departs at 13:30 and arrives at 19:50
5W7106 Male – Abu Dhabi, departure at 20:45, arrival at 1:35 (+1 day)

The 1,876 mile flight is blocked 5h 20m from Abu Dhabi and 5h 50m from Abu Dhabi. That’s an awfully long time to cover that distance, and if you look at the trajectory, you’ll see why.

For example, below is a map of the first return flight from the Maldives to Abu Dhabi, which spent 5 hours 17 minutes in the air. The plane ended up flying an actual distance of 2,611 miles, almost 40% more than the direct distance.

Wizz Air’s inaugural flight from Male to Abu Dhabi

For comparison, Etihad Airways also operates this route with a Boeing 787-9, which is closed 4h 15m from Abu Dhabi and 3h 55m from Abu Dhabi. A flight to Abu Dhabi typically takes 3 hours 30 minutes in the air and typically flies just over 1,900 miles, which is just over 1% longer than a non-stop flight between airports.

Etihad flight from Male to Abu Dhabi

Why is Wizz Air diverting this route to the Maldives?

As you might have guessed from the maps above, the Wizz Air Abu Dhabi flight is much longer, as the airline does not fly directly between the two airports, but stays close to the ground. Departing from the Maldives, Wizz Air flies along the coasts of India and Pakistan, then over the Gulf of Oman and then over Oman before approaching Abu Dhabi.

This is because Wizz Air’s Airbus A321neos do not have ETOPS certification. ETOPS stands for “Extended Range Twin Engine Performance Standards”. This is a certificate that airlines need to fly over large bodies of water where there are no diversion points nearby.

Obtaining ETOPS certification requires some effort and can be expensive. Historically, Wizz Air has not needed ETOPS certification for many routes because Wizz Air and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi have not operated many flights over large bodies of water.

However, you’d think the airline would consider this when expanding from Abu Dhabi.

  • It is unpleasant to be stuck on Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s A321neos for almost two hours more than necessary
  • It’s a huge waste of fuel and resources in general; I’m not sure how this is consistent with Wizz Air’s claim of being the world’s greenest airline

I’m curious to see if Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will pursue ETOPS certification or if the airline will continue to operate the route this way.

Wizz Air A321neos are not ETOPS certified

Bottom line

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has launched flights to the Maldives, giving Etihad Airways some competition. While it’s great to see a very low-cost competitor in the market, it’s not particularly great to see Wizz Air Abu Dhabi operate on this route. Since the airline does not have any ETOPS-certified aircraft, the flight takes almost two hours more and covers about 40% more distance than a direct flight.

I’m curious if Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is working towards ETOPS certification or if the airline is just going to continue with this unnecessarily inefficient route. This seems like the kind of route that should only be started once you are ETOPS certified.

What do you think of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s new service to the Maldives?



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