The boss of Wizz Air UK says the budget carrier has “a lot of potential to expand” having grown its fleet and added bases during Covid.
Wizz’s UK subsidiary now has 14 aircraft, up from 10 before the pandemic, and announced its third new base this year last week, with the addition of Cardiff taking it to four with Luton, Gatwick and Doncaster Sheffield.
“That’s pretty indicative of what’s gone on elsewhere in our Wizz network across Europe,” said managing director Owain Jones.
He would not speculate on where Wizz UK might fly from next but said there was “a lot of potential to expand” in other parts of the country.
Noting the Hungarian carrier’s UK subsidiary was “no longer a Brexit contingency” having been set up for that reason in 2017, Jones said it was now “a key part of the UK’s aviation industry and playing a huge part in the recovery [from Covid].”
He said “opportunities” had been presented by the reduction of capacity by some airlines as a result of the pandemic, and the collapses of Flybe and Thomas Cook.
Jones said the low-cost model would bounce back quickly and claimed Wizz is the “best capitalised airline in Europe”, adding: “The are opportunities to be taken if you can afford to.”
He said that Wizz had been “disciplined” during Covid, focussing only on “contribution positive routes”, saying: “We have been measured, but optimistic. Financial resilience means we have been able to move quickly.
“You can either sit back and watch or take charge of your own destiny.”
Jones said Wizz Air’s move into Cardiff meant the airport, and south Wales region, was now served by low-cost carrier year-round for the first time with winter routes to Lanzarote and Sharm El Sheikh offered.
He said the catchment area, of about 2.5 million people, could also “stretch” to south west England and northern Wales – noting: “People [in south Wales] have been travelling to Birmingham and Bristol” before now.
Jones said Wizz’s initial focus on summer sun routes – it will fly to Alicante, Faro, Larnaca and Tenerife year-round, and serve Corfu, Heraklion and Palma in the summer – was based on “what sells”, looking at last summer, noting “strong demand” for “known and trusted destinations”.
“The immediate demand we see for Easter and beyond is for these leisure destinations,” he added.