(CNN) — As the invasion of Ukraine approaches its sixth month, Russia remains isolated from the international community. International brands continue to boycott the country, while airlines and countries impose flight bans and sanctions.
But one airline has decided to start a route back to Russia, in response to what it believes is passenger demand.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has announced that it will resume flights from Abu Dhabi to Moscow, with tickets now on sale from October 3.
Founded in December 2019, the company is an Emirati subsidiary of Wizz Air, one of Europe’s fastest-growing budget airlines, based in Hungary. Wizz Air has a 49% stake, with the majority 51% going to the state-owned ADQ. Wizz has yet another subsidiary, Wizz Air UK, which was originally set up to mitigate problems caused by Brexit.
A Wizz Air spokesperson said in a statement:
“Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is a flag carrier of the UAE that operates in accordance with the national regulations and policies of the UAE. The airline is resuming its flights to Moscow to meet the demand for passengers who want to fly to and from Russia from the capital of the UAE. All UAE national airlines currently operate direct flights to Russia.”
It added: “Wizz Air Hungary and Wizz Air UK do not currently operate flights to Russia.” Flights to Russia from the UK and the EU are currently banned.
Etihad, Emirates and FlyDubai are among the airlines flying to Russia from the UAE. Wizz had initially launched the route in December 2021, before suspending it when Russia invaded Ukraine.
Whether passengers will understand the difference between the airlines, however, remains to be seen. Mark Borkowski, a crisis PR adviser, told CNN things could go wrong for the airline — and said Wizz’s rivals will be watching closely.
“We are now starting to see a number of brands starting to check their resolve, and as events drag on, virtue signaling will give way to commercial intent,” he said.
“I expect this decision will be viewed with great interest. It could be a disaster – but the bigger problem is fatigue. Certain commercial interests will prevail. Still, it is a risky move that could culminate in deep PR of its own.” -goal” – a football term, meaning a self-inflicted disaster.
Wizz Air Hungary — the umbrella organization — currently offers 100,000 free flights for Ukrainian passport holders through its network.