The CEO of budget airline Wizz Air has said the firm is considering basing an airline in Saudi Arabia, following an agreement signed with the government earlier this year to develop the kingdom’s aviation sector.
The possibility was touted during the announcement of new direct flights operated by Wizz Air to Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam from 11 European cities, set to begin early next year.
CEO Jozsef Varadi raised the possibility of applying for an Air Operator’s Certificate in Saudi Arabia, saying that his firm may look to build its presence further in the country.
“The scope of exploring opportunities in the country may go beyond being an inbound carrier and may also involve making direct investments,” Varadi said.
Wizz Air currently holds AOCs in Hungary, where the airline is headquartered, and the United Kingdom. Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, a joint venture between Wizz Air and an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, holds a United Arab Emirates AOC.
Saudi Arabia has seen increased tourism since relaxing entry requirements in 2019, as the oil-rich nation seeks to reduce its dependence on a single income source.
“This country is on the move. The country is transforming itself. It’s very ambitious [and] we want to be part of it,” Varadi said.