|Prague spring: On 19 February Wizz Air launches in the Czech Republic with four new services departing Prague Airport, to London Luton, Rome, Milan Bergamo and Brussels Charleroi. Further routes to Paris Beauvais and Eindhoven will start in July.|
Last year Budapest headquartered Wizz Air carried 5.9 million passengers on its fleet of 20 180-seat Airbus A320s. With official bases in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Romania and most recently the Ukraine, it may come as a surprise that the airline’s busiest airport in terms of weekly flights is actually in the United Kingdom. London Luton airport currently sees 91 Wizz Air flights arrive and depart each week with services to 14 destinations in Central and Eastern Europe. Six of these destinations (Bucharest, Budapest, Gdansk, Katowice, Sofia and Warsaw) are served at least daily, even in winter.
|Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 18 February 2008 and w/c 16 February 2009|
The only other Western European airports that feature among the airline’s top 12 busiest airports are Dortmund (Germany) and Milan Bergamo and Rome Fiumicino, both in Italy. The new Ukraine base in Kiev is already in the top 12 with 23 weekly departures. All of these leading airports have seen an increase in frequency since last February except Katowice and Poznan.
|Wizz air opened its seventh base in Poznan. Poland is the most important country market for Wizz Air, with almost twice as many flights to and from Polish airports than any other country.|
Katowice has seen a 15% drop in flights as the number of destinations has fallen from 21 to 18. The reduction of three destinations includes the addition of Barcelona and Bologna and the removal of five destinations all in the UK; Belfast International, Bournemouth, Coventry, London Gatwick and London Stansted.
12 airports added, eight dropped since last February
Since last February Wizz Air has increased the number of routes served from 81 to 106 and the number of airports served from 40 to 44. This net gain of just four airports disguises the fact that 12 airports have been added to the network while eight have been dropped, at least during the winter period.
- Airports added: Bologna, Bourgas, Girona, Kiev, Lviv, Simferopol, Stockholm Vasteras, Targu Mures, Timisoara, Turku, Varna and Venice Treviso
- Airports removed: Belfast International, Bournemouth, Coventry, Durham Tees Valley, Izmir, Ljubljana, London Gatwick and London StanstedSix of the eight dropped airports are in the UK providing further evidence of the weakening demand between the UK and the new EU member states. Weekly departures have increased by 24% and the average frequency on each route has fallen slightly from 4.2 to 4.0 weekly departures.
|In London Wizz Air has teamed up with the Hungarian National Tourist Office to promote flights from London Luton to Budapest using 12 branded taxis.|
Leading LCC in (almost) all major Central European markets
An analysis of current schedule data reveals that Poland is by some distance the most important country market for the airline with almost twice as many flights to and from Polish airports than any other country. The UK is second thanks to the Luton routes followed by Italy, Romania and Germany.
|Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 16 February 2009|
A closer look at international capacity from the four main Central European countries in which Wizz Air operates reveals that the airline is either the second or third biggest carrier in each country. It has around a 10% market share of international seats in Bulgaria and Hungary, 13% in Romania and almost 22% in Poland where it ranks ahead of LOT but just behind Ryanair.
|Bulgaria Air 24.9%||Malev 40.8%||Ryanair 22.9%||Tarom 21.4%|
|Lufthansa 11.3%||Wizz Air 9.9%||Wizz Air 21.6%||Wizz Air 12.8%|
|Wizz Air 10.0%||Lufthansa 8.5%||LOT 21.0%||Blue Air 9.4%|
|easyJet 6.8%||easyJet 5.6%||Lufthansa 7.7%||Lufthansa 7.4%|
|Austrian 6.4%||Ryanair 3.9%||easyJet 4.0%||Carpatair 6.1%|
|Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 16 February 2009|
The recent announcement by the operators of Warsaw Airport that they intend to close the low-cost Etiuda terminal at the airport has been interpreted by Wizz Air (and others) as a protectionist measure designed to safeguard LOT from growing competition after it abandoned its own in-house LCC, Centralwings.
|Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi with Gdansk’s most famous son Lech Walesa.|
Fleet will grow by 30% in 2009; 25 new routes still to start
Wizz Air’s current fleet consists of 20 A320s with further aircraft joining the fleet in February (Timisoara), March (Bucharest Baneasa), April (Budapest) and June (Prague). Two further aircraft arrive in July and December but bases for these aircraft have yet to be allocated. The airline has placed an order for a further 66 aircraft. Assuming the current ratio of around 5.5 routes per aircraft the additional 72 aircraft will need to find some 400 new routes to keep them occupied.
A new weekly Poznan to Milan Bergamo service was started last week and there are a further 25 new routes waiting to be launched in the next six months; 10 in February, four in March, two in April, two in May, five in June and two in July. These include the airline’s first routes to and from Prague.