Wizz Air President on “two expansion frontiers” and “great market response” to new Cardiff base
anna.aero spoke with Robert Carey, President, Wizz Air, at the recent Future Travel Experience EMEA event in Dublin, where they discussed the airline’s route development strategy, the success of its new Cardiff base, and how Wizz Air became the No.1 airline in the world for ancillary revenues.
At the recent Future Travel Experience EMEA event in Dublin, Carey delivered a fantastic presentation, explaining that ancillary accounts for 56% of Wizz Air’s total revenues, with strong value-added ancillary demand from passengers. Consistent growth means ancillary revenues per passenger are currently €38.20. Carey highlighted three reasons for the airline’s ancillary growth: innovation, collaboration with partners, and gaps in the market and opportunities.
Examples of Wizz Air’s innovation and collaboration approach include Wizz Flex which gives customers full flexibility to change their plans, a loyalty programme guaranteeing discounts for returning travellers, the Wizz Ride mobility app enabling travellers to plan their end-to-end journey, and auto check-in.
“Ancillaries are core to what we do at Wizz Air and, because of that, we’re always on the lookout for new opportunities,” Carey explains. “For us, our key starting point is what the customer wants – how we can provide more value to our customers. That can be through new services like automated check-in or flexibility products where they want to have more choice.”
Fastest-growing European ultra-low-cost airline
Wizz Air is the fastest-growing European ultra-low-cost airline. It currently has 27.1 million annual passengers, a fleet of 153 aircraft, and operates at 194 airports (40 of them bases) in 51 countries. “We’re adding about 40 aircraft per year,” says Carey. “A lot of growth is in our core markets of central and eastern Europe. Then we have two expansion frontiers. One is going west – we’ve really built out our platform in Italy, Austria, and the UK, including adding a base in Cardiff. Then we’re also going east – we have Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, which is now four aircraft and will be eight by the end of the year.”
Cardiff Airport base: “we’re very happy with the performance so far”
Cardiff Airport became Wizz Air’s fourth base in the UK in April 2022. The airline will operate nine routes to sunshine destinations, with one A321 neo based at the airport. The routes include Alicante, Faro, Heraklion, Palma de Mallorca, Larnaca, Lanzarote, Tenerife, and Corfu, with Sharm El Sheikh to launch in November.
“Cardiff is doing well, we’re very happy with the performance so far,” says Carey. “I think there’s a real gap in the market. We were actually just out there, our whole leadership team, the other week and it was great to see the market response and opportunity that exists there, so we’re looking forward to seeing it grow.”
Three new routes to Dammam, Saudi Arabia
In May, Wizz Air signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to explore opportunities to increase air connectivity.
The airline has subsequently announced that it will launch three new routes to Dammam – a twice-weekly service from Rome beginning on 28 September, twice-weekly from Vienna starting on 30 September, and four times weekly from Abu Dhabi commencing on 1 November.
“Wizz Air is committed to increasing global connectivity to marvellous destinations with real opportunities for growth and expansion,” Carey explains. “Saudi Arabia is a very exciting market and our expansion will bring ultra-low-cost travel to the Kingdom. Our regular flights to Dammam will provide year-round sun for tourists and provide a mix of destinations for residents of the Kingdom.”
Shame he didn’t explain why they abandoned Doncaster