Wizz Air announces Cardiff base; all 9 routes will have direct competition
Wizz Air has revealed that Cardiff will be its next UK base with one based 230-seat A321.
The Welsh airport, brand-new in its network, and will be its fourth UK base after Luton, Gatwick, and Doncaster. It’ll be its 12 UK airport.
Opening on 26 March just before S21 begins, Wizz Air will initially have nine routes with a total of 21 weekly services.
Its routes include the 4,078-kilometre link to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, another new airport in the ULCC’s network. This will be winter-only; it’ll be joined by Lanzarote, although it begins in late summer.
Perhaps surprisingly, all routes will have direct competition, although two – Heraklion and Larnaca – will not when Wizz Air begins.
Wizz Air is very much taking the fight to TUI, with the pair competing on all nine routes. They’ll have the same frequency on three routes, Wizz Air will have more on five, and TUI will have more to just one: Palma.
Three routes – Alicante, Faro, Palma – will have three airlines.
Wizz Air’s new Cardiff announcement comes less than a month after Jet2 revealed Bristol, at which it’ll have 36 routes: the initial 33 together with new Alicante, Bodrum, and Dubrovnik.
|Route||Start date||Weekly frequency||Direct competition (WF): the week that Wizz Air begins, unless stated||Served by Thomas Cook?||Other operators since 2010 (until)|
|Alicante||28 March||2||Vueling (6), TUI (2)||No||bmibaby (2011)|
|Corfu||29 May||2||TUI (2)||No||None|
|Faro||28 March||2||Ryanair (2); TUI (2) from 6 May||No||flybe (2019), bmibaby (2011)|
|Heraklion||26 March||3||None, but TUI (1) from 2 May||Yes||Thomas Cook (2014)|
|Lanzarote||1 October||3||TUI (2)||Yes||Thomas Cook (2019)|
|Larnaca||27 March||2||None, but TUI (1) from 2 May||Yes||Thomas Cook (2019)|
|Palma||28 March||2||Vueling (3); TUI (5) from 1 May||Yes||Thomas Cook (2019), bmibaby (2011)|
|Sharm El Sheikh||2 November||2||TUI (1)||Yes||Thomas Cook (2010)|
|Tenerife South||26 March||3||TUI (2)||Yes||Ryanair (2020), Thomas Cook (2019)|
|Source: airline websites and OAG Schedules Analyser.|
These nine routes had 494,000 seats in 2019
Wizz Air’s nine routes had just shy of 494,000 seats at Cardiff last year, data from OAG Schedules Analyser shows. This was up by just 48,000 – or 11% – over 2010.
They have more or less represented one-quarter of the airport’s total capacity for years.
Of course, flybe ceased operating and therefore ended Faro, Ryanair ended Tenerife in 2020, and Thomas Cook ceased operating in September 2019.
The opportunity for Wizz Air going forward seems clear, together with Cardiff’s strong leakage to Bristol and Birmingham. Backfilling Thomas Cook is important, although not as significant as might be expected.
In 2019, Thomas Cook served four of the nine routes Wizz Air will begin from Cardiff: Lanzarote; Larnaca; Palma; and Tenerife. It had just under 60,000 seats to them of its 152,000 at Cardiff last year.
While Wizz Air’s CEO said this week that it has acted very opportunistically, most base decisions were decided pre-crisis. It’s likely that Cardiff falls into this category.
Wizz Air will likely base more aircraft at Cardiff; first is fully allocated
The economic problems of having one based aircraft are well known and Doncaster swiftly announced a second stationed aircraft. Gatwick will have multiple if Wizz Air can obtain more slots.
It is likely that Cardiff will get a second aircraft too, unless of course the deal it got at the airport is so good to offset this disadvantage.
Wizz Air’s announced aircraft at Cardiff will be fully allocated, based on the first week of June, operating from 0610 each day until between 0030 and 0155.
Longer sectors of course mean fewer legs per aircraft per day, although Palma, Alicante, and Faro will be served on Thursdays and Sundays.
In all, Wizz Air’s Cardiff aircraft will cover 75,077 kilometres a week.
|Flying based on the first week of June|
|Monday||Heraklion (0610-1525); Tenerife (1635-0155)|
|Tuesday||Corfu (0610-1340); Larnaca (1430-0110)|
|Wednesday||Heraklion (0610-1525); Tenerife (1635-0155)|
|Thursday||Palma (0610-1125); Alicante (1215-1745); Faro (1830-0030)|
|Friday||Heraklion (0610-1525); Tenerife (1635-0155)|
|Saturday||Corfu (0610-1340); Larnaca (1430-0110)|
|Sunday||Palma (0610-1125); Alicante (1215-1745); Faro (1830-0030)|
|With relatively long sectors, Wizz Air’s Cardiff aircraft will mainly operate four sectors a day until after midnight. Source: Wizz Air’s website.|