London Luton Wizz Air’s busiest airport; 26 A320s split across 11 Central European bases

Image: Düsseldorf Weeze welcomes Wizz Air
Earlier this week: A clearly thrilled Ludger Van Bebber, managing director of Düsseldorf Weeze, gives beautiful bouquets to the ladies (and men) of the first Wizz Air flights to Budapest, one of six Wizz Air routes launched this week.

During the last 12 months Central Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier, Budapest-based Wizz Air, carried seven million passengers and this week it launched six new routes from Bratislava, Bucharest, Budapest, Katowice and Prague. The Bratislava route (to Rome) was announced before the collapse of SkyEurope and marks the airline’s first service into Slovakia. It seems likely that the airline will develop further routes from the airport in the next year.

Based on OAG schedule data for the first week of October Wizz Air operates 138 routes generating 1100 weekly departures using 26 A320s across 59 airports in 21 countries. These 26 aircraft are spread across 11 designated bases, the largest of which are Katowice (five aircraft), Bucharest Baneasa, Budapest and Warsaw (three aircraft each). In December Gdansk will get a third aircraft while the Prague base will expand to three aircraft in March 2010, and the Sofia base will acquire a third aircraft in May 2010. Despite all of these Central European bases the airline’s busiest airport in terms of weekly flights is still London Luton, from which the airline operates 15 routes at present.

Chart: Wizz Air’s top 13 airports - Weekly departures and share of airport seat capacity
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 5 October 2009

Other popular destinations are Dortmund, Milan Bergamo and Rome Fiumicino. At present the airline serves both Rome Fiumicino and Rome Ciampino. Combining both Rome airports reveals that Wizz Air operates 55 weekly departures from the Italian capital.

Only 17 routes served daily

The airline’s business model is aimed at leisure traffic with each route having an average of just four weekly flights. As a result each aircraft operates an average of just over five routes each. With orders placed for a further 100 aircraft the airline will be looking to start another 500 routes in the coming years.

Image: Wizz Air Route Map

Out of 138 current routes only 17 are operated at least daily with just six routes operated more than daily. Four of these involve London Luton; Budapest, Gdansk, Katowice and Warsaw are all served double-daily at present. The other two high frequency routes are Dortmund – Katowice (12 weekly flights) and Bucharest Baneasa – Rome Ciampino (11 weekly flights).

Poland is biggest market ahead of UK and Italy

Analysis of the airline’s routes by country reveals that Poland is by far Wizz Air’s biggest country market. As the most populous of the Central European EU member states this may not be that surprising, and the airline has bases in Gdansk, Katowice, Poznan and Warsaw. Maybe more surprising is that the UK and Italy are the next biggest country markets. Hungary, where the airline is based, ranks just sixth.

Chart: Wizz Air’s top 13 country markets - Weekly departures
Source: OAG Max Online for w/c 5 October 2009

Country markets with just a single route in October are Croatia (Zagreb to London Luton), Finland (Turku to Gdansk), Greece (Thessaloniki to Prague), Slovakia (Bratislava to Rome) and Turkey (Antalya to Kiev).

In true low-cost style the airline has not been afraid to axe underperforming routes, or even not start routes that have been put on sale. According to anna.aero’s records Wizz Air has axed over 60 routes since its launch in May 2004. Airports that once welcomed Wizz Air aircraft include Amsterdam, Belfast, Bournemouth, Coventry, Kaunas, Ljubljana, Odessa and Split.


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