Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s Brutal New Maldives Flight

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s Brutal New Maldives Flight

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Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, which is a joint venture between Wizz Air and state-owned Abu Dhabi Development Holding, has just launched a new route to the Maldives. However, it’s a significantly longer flight than you’d expect…

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s new route to the Maldives

On Tuesday, October 4, 2022, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi launched its new service between Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Male (MLE). The route is operated by an Airbus A321neo with the following schedule:

5W7105 Abu Dhabi to Male departing 1:30PM arriving 7:50PM
5W7106 Male to Abu Dhabi departing 8:45PM arriving 1:35AM (+1 day)

The 1,876-mile flight is blocked at 5hr20min from Abu Dhabi and 5hr50min to Abu Dhabi. That’s an awfully long time to cover that distance, and if you look at the flight path, you’ll see why.

For example, below is the map for the inaugural return flight from the Maldives to Abu Dhabi, which spent 5hr17min in the air. The plane ended up flying an actual distance of 2,611 miles, nearly 40% more than the direct distance.

Wizz Air’s inaugural Male to Abu Dhabi flight

As a point of comparison, Etihad Airways also operates this route with a Boeing 787-9, and that’s blocked at 4hr15min from Abu Dhabi and 3hr55min to Abu Dhabi. The flight to Abu Dhabi ordinarily takes 3hr30min in the air, and typically flies an actual distance of just over 1,900 miles, just a bit over 1% beyond the direct air distance between the airports.

Etihad’s Male to Abu Dhabi flight

Why does Wizz Air take this routing to the Maldives?

As you may have guessed based on the above maps, Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s flight is way longer because the airline doesn’t fly direct(ish) between the two airports, but rather stays near land. When departing the Maldives, Wizz Air flies along the coast of India and Pakistan, and then across the Gulf of Oman, and then over Oman, before approaching Abu Dhabi.

This comes down to Wizz Air’s Airbus A321neos not having ETOPS certification. ETOPS stands for “extended range twin engine operations performance standards.” This is the certification that airlines require to be able to fly over large bodies of water, where there aren’t any nearby diversion points.

Getting ETOPS certification takes some effort and can be costly. Historically Wizz Air hasn’t needed ETOPS certification for many routes, given that both Wizz Air and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi haven’t operated many flights over large bodies of water.

However, you’d think that this is something the airline would consider as it looks to expand from Abu Dhabi.

  • It’s unpleasant to be stuck on Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s A321neos for nearly two more hours than needed
  • It’s a huge waste of fuel and resources in general; I’m not sure how this is consistent with Wizz Air’s claim of being the world’s greenest airline

I’m curious to see if Wizz Air Abu Dhabi pursues ETOPS certification, or if the airline continues operating the route like this.

Wizz Air A321neos aren’t ETOPS certified

Bottom line

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has launched flights to the Maldives, giving Etihad Airways some competition. While it’s cool to see an ultra low cost competitor in the market, it’s not particularly cool to see how Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is operating this route. Because the airline doesn’t have any ETOPS certified planes, the flight takes nearly an additional two hours, and covers about 40% more distance than a direct flight would.

I’m curious if Wizz Air Abu Dhabi works on getting ETOPS certification, or if the airline is just going to keep flying this unnecessarily inefficient routing. This seems like the kind of route you should only launch once you have ETOPS certification.

What do you make of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s new service to the Maldives?

Conversations (43)
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  1. Shahin shakil Guest

    If it cheap I don't mind as long as enough petrol in it

  2. Ali hassan Guest

    I don't recommend they charge me more 260 aed in airport before flying

  3. Euro Aviation Guest

    ETOPS also to apply over land. Not much if any traffic over the Himalayas as an example with limited or no diversion airports within the time ratings.

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      Himalayan flying with a twinjet is a different issue because although there may be diversion airports within range, you have to be able to maintain altitude above the sector minimums on a single engine, which is not always possible with such high terrain. Additionally, the aircraft needs to be equipped with additional oxygen as the standard rapid descent procedure to FL170 is not possible in case of depressurisation.

  4. Chicago Chris Guest

    Frontier does this, too, on their flights to SJU. The routing keeps them offshore, but much closer to land than airlines with ETOPS.

  5. Andy Diamond

    Even without ETOPS, there is no requirement to fly directly on the coastline. Without ETOPS you have to be able to reach the closest airport within 60 minutes with one operating engine. So you are definitely able to make some shortcuts on that route. I wonder why they didn't?

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      You can't just fly a random routing of your convenience - you have to follow the airways and most importantly transition between Pakistan and India STRICTLY at designated waypoints ONLY unless you want to get shot down - and that means you have to follow an airway that remains entirely within the non-ETOPS envelope that you operate within.

      In this particular case, the non-ETOPS airway routing southbound would be OMAD DCT LABRI N318 LAKLU G216...

      You can't just fly a random routing of your convenience - you have to follow the airways and most importantly transition between Pakistan and India STRICTLY at designated waypoints ONLY unless you want to get shot down - and that means you have to follow an airway that remains entirely within the non-ETOPS envelope that you operate within.

      In this particular case, the non-ETOPS airway routing southbound would be OMAD DCT LABRI N318 LAKLU G216 ALPOR M504 TELEM Z10 BVR R458 MABTA W15 CLC DCT NOKID R457 MLE VRMM and northbound would be VRMM MLE R457 NOKID DCT UDUPU DCT MML Q12 BBB Z1 APANO G208 PARET A454 VUSET R462 MIXAM P899 ITRAX SIXIV OMAD

    2. Eskimo Guest

      And if you DO get shot down. The commander and his crew would be awarded a medal.
      The government would not admit guilt or officially apologize.
      The investigation would reveal that it was an act of self defense and any airliner should be aware of the Pakistan-India conflict even if the commander was expecting to see some actions.

  6. Marvin Guest

    Who wants to sit 5hrs in a WizzAir plane? They have the least legspace possible.

    1. DCAWABN Guest

      And who in the hell's budget allows for Maldives but also takes Wizz Air? Are they splurging on literally everything other than than the flight?

    2. Sean M. Diamond

      You do realise that there are people who actually come from and live in the Maldives right? And they sometimes need to travel elsewhere for reasons ranging from employment to medical care to education? And that they like to not have to spend an arm and a leg to do so?

    3. Mike Guest

      Do you really think the people giving you massages and serving you cocktails and making your beds are flying their business class?

  7. JP in Chicago Guest

    Curious what the parameters are for flights that need ETOPS vs. those that don't.

    For instance, I flew Wizz from Tel Aviv to Mykonos this summer. We were over water from a few minutes after takeoff to a few minutes before landing. Why was that allowed, but not this?

    1. John Guest

      @JP
      You basically answered your own question. You were over water for ONLY a few minutes.

    2. John Bennett Guest

      No, he was over water from a few minutes after takeoff until a few minutes before landing. So, unless the flight was no more than about fifteen minutes in length, the majority of the flight was over water.

    3. Pilot Guest

      Because they were within range of multiple airports nearby the whole time. ETOPS is for flying long routes overwater a long way from your nearest alternate… (almost 6 hours away from nearest alternates at times depending on acft)

    4. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      ETOPS has nothing to do with being "over water" per se... there are ETOPS flights that never fly over water at all (e.g. over northern Brazil, central Africa, etc), and there are plenty of over water flights that do not involve ETOPS.

      ETOPS (in operation, not referring to the mtx practices or equipment requirements) is solely a factor distance from diversion alternatives. Water has different regulations entirely.

  8. arbitrary9 Guest

    Surely this isn't the first time you've seen this before? I remember taking an AA flight shortly after the merger (maybe it was former US Airways metal, I forget) between PHL and SJU, and that plane definitely hugged the coast instead of taking the direct route over the Atlantic Ocean.

    1. Philip fraser Guest

      I just did this flight last week from AD to Male with two kids. Absolute nightmare. I couldn’t bear the thought of the return journey so on the way back, got to the airport in Male and bought tickets with emirates at the airport counter.

      Never again…

  9. Andrew Guest

    As a ULCC, I'd have thought they'd be super concerned about trying to minimize fuel costs.

  10. SM Guest

    I wonder whether any ETOPS certification was required for the first non-stop transatlantic flight that was made in 16 h in 1919, by John Alcock and Arthur Brown, in a twin-engine Vickers Vimy, from Newfoundland to Ireland.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      Actual ETOPS didn't go into effect until the '80s, so no. For the USA: the first diversion distance restrictions were in place before WWII, but prior to the '30s, there wasn't much oversight in that regard.

  11. Rotuma Diamond

    Most of the flight they could easily stay about 60 minutes flying time west of the coast of India (assuming there are several suitable coastal airports), so hugging the coast looks unnecessary. Again, what a waste of fuel.
    Achieving ETOPS certification requires (among other things) that each individual airplane is in compliance with the standards, the mechanics are ETOPS qualified, and the airline has a proven track record. (Brand new airline can’t be granted...

    Most of the flight they could easily stay about 60 minutes flying time west of the coast of India (assuming there are several suitable coastal airports), so hugging the coast looks unnecessary. Again, what a waste of fuel.
    Achieving ETOPS certification requires (among other things) that each individual airplane is in compliance with the standards, the mechanics are ETOPS qualified, and the airline has a proven track record. (Brand new airline can’t be granted ETOPS approval until they’ve been operating successfully for some months with no violations or major maintenance issues.) Both airlines in this joint venture have proven track records, but maybe they still have to demonstrate some other regulatory requirement before they’re given ETOPS approval.

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      Transition from Karachi FIR to Mumbai FIR (and vv) is only permitted at specified waypoints - in this case at TELEM southbound and PARTY northbound. There is no airway parallel to the coast which supports a non-ETOPS routing.

    1. DCAWABN Guest

      Thirded and he did! I get such an Aviation boner when he schools us.

  12. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    Not much worse than doing a US transcon or a California to Hawaii... but yeah, can definitely see why some would rather avoid.

    1. Michael Guest

      At least with those, you are covering distance. I think you missed the point. These flights spend a lot of time, and burn a lot of fuel, to go somewhere not terribly distant. These flights are about as useful to the world as crypto mining.

    2. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      The final 9 words in the sentence are there for a reason........

  13. Fred J Blogs Guest

    ETOPS.

    Engines Turning Ot Passengers Swimming

  14. Dan Guest

    That flight path still doesn't make any sense even without ETOPs certification as the plane would have to be within 60 mins of flying time of an airport it could divert to, which would still be off the coast of India.

    1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

      I'm guessing they don't have sufficient over-water equipment (life rafts, individual flotation devices, etc) to qualify for an exemption.

      In such case, the FAA (were they under its authority) would restrict them to within 50nm of a shoreline. I'd imagine the relevant CAA here has a similar restriction.

    2. David Guest

      Yes, that definitely looks like a non-overwater equipment route where they have to stay within 50 nm of land.

  15. Ethan Guest

    In addition, as Lucky experienced - over night in Male is a nightmare, so only speedboat resorts worth a flight like this. And then consider how much a single night’s price in Maldives, maybe just flight normally and book one less day?

  16. Jordan Guest

    Is this route any longer than some of the flights to Tenerife or Azores? On another note, with this flight Wizzair unlocks sub $300 rt Europe-MLE flights via AUH/DXB.

    1. Justin Guest

      If your flight budget is $300, the Maldives is the wrong destination.

    2. JWags Guest

      Maybe its to save $500 which you'll spend on food your first 2 days there

    3. Franklin Guest

      There are plenty of ways to visit the Maldives on a budget. Just don't stay in a resort or use private transportation. easy. Plenty of islands around the capital have cheap, quick boats and reasonably priced hotels and homestays.

    4. Smic8881 New Member

      Assume you aren't aware of the locals' islands such as Maafushi where you can stay at a budget.

    5. red_robbo Guest

      I imagine the target market is migrant workers - not holidaymakers.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Justin Guest

If your flight budget is $300, the Maldives is the wrong destination.

7
Sean M. Diamond

You can't just fly a random routing of your convenience - you have to follow the airways and most importantly transition between Pakistan and India STRICTLY at designated waypoints ONLY unless you want to get shot down - and that means you have to follow an airway that remains entirely within the non-ETOPS envelope that you operate within. In this particular case, the non-ETOPS airway routing southbound would be OMAD DCT LABRI N318 LAKLU G216 ALPOR M504 TELEM Z10 BVR R458 MABTA W15 CLC DCT NOKID R457 MLE VRMM and northbound would be VRMM MLE R457 NOKID DCT UDUPU DCT MML Q12 BBB Z1 APANO G208 PARET A454 VUSET R462 MIXAM P899 ITRAX SIXIV OMAD

6
RetiredATLATC Diamond

Yeah....no

6
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