Dammam Sees Connectivity Grow With Wizz Air Service

Arrivals at Dammam's King Fahd International Airport.
Credit: Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters/Alamy Stock Photo

The launch of Wizz Air service to Dammam (DMM) provided a big boost for the airport and air connectivity to/from Saudi Arabia generally, according to DMM.

Wizz launched its first Saudi Arabia route when it started 2X-weekly service between DMM, the third largest airport in the country, and Rome (FCO) on Sept. 28. The European ULCC began 2X-weekly DMM-Vienna (VIE) service on Sept. 30 and will launch 4X-weekly flights to Abu Dhabi (AUH) from Oct. 31.

Attracting new western air service, particularly from the ULCC sector, is a key strategy for Saudi Arabia going forward, according to DMM traffic development director Khalid Saeed Almuraisel Alghamdi. Outbound Saudi Arabian tourists and guest workers such as those working for the world’s largest oil company, Aramco, are major components of the target market for DMM. The point-of-sale mix is nearly split 50/50, he said.

Wizz is motivated by re-establishing international connectivity to western European and Mediterranean destinations that were lost when Saudia ended those operations at DMM. Domestic LCCs Flynas and flyadeal are presently more focused on domestic and regional Middle Eastern destinations.

“We had to increase the international movements, and we were successful,” Alghamdi said at Routes World 2022. DMM is using a mix of incentives and marketing initiatives under the country’s Air Connectivity Plan (ACP). He would not confirm subsidies, however.

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Alghamdi said what is motivating airline network planners’ interest is “the potential for lots of profits” by operating flights to DMM.

Wizz’s Saudi Arabian campaign continues in December with the country’s first and second largest cities, Jeddah (JED) and Riyadh (RUH), coming online.

There is much speculation that Wizz will establish a Saudi Arabian subsidiary, similar to its Wizz Abu Dhabi affiliate, with domestic flights potentially also part of the carrier’s operation. Discussions regarding a Wizz Air subsidiary in Saudi Arabia “are confidential, but I think you will see good news,” Alghamdi said.

Wizz plans to open 20 new routes to Saudi Arabia from 11 European cities as part of its strategy to ramp up its operations to the Middle East country.

Chris Sloan

Chris Sloan is Air Transport World & Routes Senior Editor covering the Americas.