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Wizz Air suspends relaunch of Russia-UAE flights amid criticism

Airplane, Aircraft, Transportation REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
Wizz Air's aircraft is parked on the tarmac at Ferenc Liszt International Airport in Budapest, Hungary, August 18, 2022

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

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

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 to Russia, it added.

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 with Russia, while Russian airlines are banned from European Union airspace as part of Western sanctions for the conflict, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”.

The UAE has not imposed sanctions on Russia and instead said it sought to maintain a neutral position.