Thursday, May 17, Wizz Air held a ceremony at Kutaisi’s Davit Aghmashenebeli International Airport to celebrate the addition of a second Airbus A320 to its Kutaisi-based fleet, and its first flight from Paris to Kutaisi. With the additional aircraft, flights are opening to five new destinations: Paris, Rome, Prague, Barcelona, and Athens. Additional flights will also be added between Kutaisi and German destinations Berlin and Dortmund. Attendees to the ceremony included the First Vice Prime Minister of Georgia, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Dimitry Kumsishvili, the Director of the JSC United Airports of Georgia, Ketevan Aleksidze, and Johan Eidhagen, Wizz Air’s Chief Marketing Officer.
Wizz Air, a low-cost, no-frills airline based out of Hungary, has been operating in Georgia since 2012. The company choose Kutaisi International Airport as its base in part to avoid the high fees of Shota Rustaveli Tbilisi International Airport. The low-cost flights have brought many tourists to Georgia and encouraged many people to explore Kutaisi and its surroundings, who may not otherwise have visited. According to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development, Wizz Air carried more than 222,000 passengers in 2017, and has already carried 111,000 passengers in the first four months of 2018.
Wizz Air currently offers flights from Kutaisi to 20 destinations in 14 European countries, including some of the most popular tourist destinations – Spain, France, Italy, Greece, and the Czech Republic. Flights are generally once or twice a week to and from each destination. There are many options for transportation between Tbilisi and Kutaisi, including MetroBus, Georgian Railways, and shared taxis or marshrutkas from Okriba Bus Station (located at Didube metro station).
At last week’s ceremony, Minister Kumsishvili praised the Hungarian company’s contribution to the Georgian economy, noting that 2017 saw 43% growth in the airport sector, and 34% growth so far in 2018. In addition to direct flights, which help increase tourism inflows, “new flights will also result in the creation of direct and indirect jobs. To date, Wizz Air has invested $100 million in Georgia via one of the aircrafts based here, and since the second aircraft is to be based here starting today, it means that the company’s investments in Georgia have already reached $200 million. The company has created 70 direct and 250 indirect jobs thus far and the second aircraft will generate another 37 jobs,” said Kumsishvili. The ground and flight crews that service Wizz Air passengers and aircrafts in Kutaisi are all Georgian citizens.
Wizz Air has been rapidly expanding its flights from Kutaisi. In March of this year, flights were added to Riga, Latvia, and Wroclaw, Poland. There are plans to add flights to Bucharest, Romania from July 3, and to Vienna, Austria, from November 15.
The expansion of low cost flights to Europe from Kutaisi opens new routes of exploration for residents of Georgia, and “means the growth of our economy...new jobs and maximum promotion of the tourism development,” notes Dimitry Kumsishvili.