Wizz Air launches Vilnius base with one A320 and eight routes; Ryanair competes on five routes, mostly indirectly
This week, Wizz Air began operations from Vilnius in Lithuania where it is basing a single A320 that will operate eight new routes, generating 20 weekly departures. When the airline announced the plans last year, the nearest low-cost competition was from Ryanair at Kaunas, but since then, Ryanair has also announced plans to serve the Lithuanian capital from the beginning of May, resulting in Wizz Air facing direct competition on one route (Milan Bergamo) and indirect competition on four further routes.
|Destination||Wizz Air (WF)||Competition from Vilnius this summer (WF, start date)|
|Barcelona (BCN)||2||Ryanair to GRO (2, starts 3 May)|
|Cork (ORK)||2||Aer Lingus to DUB (3)
Ryanair to DUB (3, starts 3 May)
|Eindhoven (EIN)||2||Estonian Air to AMS (7)|
|London Luton (LTN)||5||Ryanair to STN (7, starts 1 May)|
|Milan Bergamo (BGY)||2||Ryanair to BGY (3, starts 2 May)|
|Rome Fiumicino (FCO)||3||Ryanair to CIA (3, starts 3 May)|
|Stockholm Skavsta (NYO)||2||Estonian Air to ARN (6)|
|Source: OAG Max Online for 9 May 2011, ryanair.com|
At the Vilnius press conference, Wizz Air’s CEO Jozsef Varadi said: “We have sold over 40,000 tickets for our Lithuanian routes prior to starting operations indicating strong demand for the Wizz low cost travel experience. Wizz has got to market leadership in the low cost airline sector in all the home markets where the airline operates bases which we aim at achieving in Lithuania too, going forward.”
Aircraft returns after midnight six days per week
A closer look at the airline’s schedule for the eight routes reveals that the morning departure is between 06:00 and 06:30, to either London Luton or Cork. The mid-day rotation is either to Italy or the Netherlands, while the evening rotation is either to Barcelona, Stockholm Skavsta or Doncaster/Sheffield. Only on Thursday does the aircraft appear to have the evening ‘off’.
Given Ryanair’s presence at Barcelona (as opposed to Girona), Eindhoven and Stockholm Skavsta, it will be interesting to see if competition at Vilnius intensifies further in the coming seasons. One consequence of the increased low-cost offering at the airport was that airBaltic decided to downscale its Vilnius operations, including the termination of its Rome Fiumicino service at the end of March.