Wizz Air is to mount an ‘ultra low cost’ challenge to established Gulf carriers with plans for a new airline in Abu Dhabi.

The eastern and central European budget airline revealed agreement in principle had been reached to establish a local airline in the emirate.

The joint venture with the Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company is expected to launch in the second half of 2020.

The airline will focus on routes to markets in which Wizz Air has existing, high growth operations in Europe, as well as India, the Middle East and Africa over the long term.

“Wizz Air believes that the establishment of a truly ultra-low cost airline in Abu Dhabi can contribute to the continued growth of Abu Dhabi as a world-class cultural and tourist destination,” the carrier said.

“ADDH’s deep rooted knowledge of the local market, support and navigation in a new market for Wizz is invaluable and will boost the successful development of the new airline.”

The start-up of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is subject to a number of agreements being reached and obtaining an air operator’s certificate from the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority.

Chief executive Jozsef Varadi said: “We are proud that our first airline to be established outside of Europe is in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE.

“ADDH’s deep rooted knowledge of the local market, support and navigation in a new market for Wizz is invaluable and will boost the successful development of this low-cost airline.”

He added: “Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will be an incremental path of growth for Wizz Air, built on our successful ultra-low cost business model, bringing affordable travel to ever more customers.

“We believe the new airline has the potential to be a significant player in the region.”