Wizz Air is resuming flights to Russia from Abu Dhabi

(CNN) — As its invasion of Ukraine enters its sixth month, Russia remains isolated from the international community. International companies are clamping down on the country, while airlines and nations are imposing flight bans and sanctions.

But one airline decided to start a route back to Russia, in response to what it said was passenger demand.

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has announced that it will resume flights from Abu Dhabi to Moscow, with tickets going on sale from October 3.

Founded in December 2019, the company is an Emirati subsidiary of Wizz Air, one of Europe’s fastest airlines, based in Hungary. Wizz Air has a 49% share, with a majority of 51% going to the national ADQ. Wizz has another subsidiary, Wizz Air UK, which was originally set up to mitigate the risks arising from Brexit.

A spokesperson for Wizz Air said in a statement:

“Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is a UAE state operating in accordance with the laws and government policies of the UAE. The airline is starting its operation in Moscow to meet the travel demand for people who want fly to Russia from the UAE capital. International airlines operate direct flights to Russia.”

It added: “Wizz Air Hungary and Wizz Air UK do not operate flights to Russia.” Flights to Russia from the UK and EU are banned.

Etihad, Emirates and FlyDubai are among the airlines flying to Russia from the UAE. Wizz originally launched the route in December 2021, before suspending it when Russia invaded Ukraine.

However, the difference between the planes was not noticeable. Mark Borkowski, a crisis PR consultant, told CNN that things could go wrong for the airline – and he said that Wizz’s competitors are watching closely.

“We are starting to see some brands starting to look at their decisions, and while the events are taking place the brand should give way to the commercial idea,” he said.

“I think this decision will be watched with great interest. It may be a disaster – but the main problem is fatigue. Some business interests will prevail. But it is a risky move that can become a PR goal itself .”

The airline had a tough summer. In June, Wizz Air CEO József Váradi was recorded telling airline employees to work hard during the summer. Pilot unions have hit out at what they say are safety concerns over his comments.

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