DUBAI, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Wizz Air's new Abu Dhabi-based joint venture airline expects to soon add flights to other Gulf Arab cities following its launch this week, the Hungary-based carrier’s chief executive said on Thursday.
'Wizz Air Abu Dhabi', a joint venture between Wizz Air and Abu Dhabi state holding company ADQ, starts operations on Friday with an inaugural flight to Athens.
It has announced 12 other routes, mostly in Central and Eastern Europe but also to Israel's Tel Aviv and Egypt's Alexandria.
CEO Jozsef Varadi, who is chairman of the Abu Dhabi venture, said he expected destinations to Gulf Arab cities would follow.
"I am actually quite hopeful that it is more first quarter than first half (of the year)," he told Reuters.
Along with the United Arab Emirates, the Gulf Arab states are Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.
Wizz Air delayed the planned October 2020 launch of the joint venture, with Abu Dhabi generally only allowing entry to citizens and residents due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Those restrictions have been lifted though most visitors are required to self-isolate on arrival. Those from a small number of approved countries can enter freely after testing negative for COVID-19.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Kirsten Donovan) ((Alexander.Cornwell@thomsonreuters.com;))