Wizz Air suspends relaunch of Russia-UAE flights after criticism

Budget airline postpones flights between UAE and Russia until further notice, officially citing ‘supply chain limitations’.

Wizz Air cabin [Bloomberg]
London-listed Wizz Air holds a 49 percent stake in Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, whose aircraft carry the European airline's name and branding [File: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg]

European budget carrier Wizz Air has suspended plans to resume flights from the Russian capital, Moscow, to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, amid mounting criticism over its decision to relaunch the route.

In a Friday statement deferring the flights until further notice, Wizz Air made no mention of a growing social media backlash, which included some calls to boycott the airline, but referred only to “industry supply chain limitations”.

It was not immediately clear what limitations Wizz Air was referring to in its statement that the route’s relaunch had been put on hold.

Airlines around the world are facing labour shortages after mass layoffs during the pandemic.

Western sanctions imposed on Moscow after its invasion of Ukraine have limited the availability of spare parts in Russia, while globally there are delays in shipping goods, in part due to persistent pandemic-related supply chain disruptions.

On Twitter, the airline had responded to criticism by saying the flight would be run by its Abu Dhabi venture, which is a registered carrier in the United Arab Emirates, operating in line with the Gulf state’s regulations.

Other UAE carriers were operating in Russia, it added.

The London-listed Wizz Air holds a 49 percent stake in Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, whose aircraft carry the European airline’s name and branding. Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund ADQ owns 51 percent.

This month, Wizz Air said flights between Abu Dhabi and Moscow would resume from October. On February 27, it had suspended all fights with Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.

Wizz Air also holds airline operating certificates (AOCs) in Britain and Hungary.

European carriers have ceased operations in Russia, while Russian airlines are banned from European Union airspace as part of Western sanctions punishing Russia for its role in the conflict, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

The UAE has not imposed sanctions on Russia and has instead sought to maintain a neutral position. Emirati carriers are among the foreign airlines still operating Russian flights.

Source: Reuters