Wizz Air is confident it will emerge from the Covid-19 crisis as a “structural winner” despite posting a €114.5 million loss in final three months of 2020.

The budget carrier expects 2021 to be a “transition year” and plans to “fully restart operations as soon as travel restrictions reduce”.

In its third quarter 2021 results, it carried almost 2.3 million passengers in the three months to December 31, 2020, a 77.3% decrease compared to the same period in 2019 “as a direct result of widespread travel restrictions imposed by governments due to Covid-19”.

Wizz’s revenues were €149.9 million, a decrease of 76.5%, as it pulled seat capacity by 66.7%. Load factors dropped from 92.5% to 63.1%.

Overall cash reserves fell almost 20%, from €1.5 billion to €1.2 billion, and the carrier lost €1.9 million hedging on fuel.

József Váradi, chief executive, said: “Wizz Air continued to focus on strengthening its market position and protecting liquidity during the third quarter of F21, where sustained government restrictions severely obstructed air travel.

“The company has relentless discipline on cost and cash management whilst maximizing cash returns on the flights it operated.

“Revenue per available seat kilometre decreased less than the load factor impact as we optimized total revenue per passenger whilst delivering another strong ancillary revenue performance.”

Váradi noted that Wizz had secured a €500 million bond on “favourable terms” earlier this month, and said: “We remain focused on optimising our cost structure and cash burn.

“Wizz Air is even better positioned to deal with the uncertainties associated with Covid-19 and now with vaccinations being rolled out across our key markets we believe 2021 will be a transition year out of the Covid-19 crisis.

“The initiatives we are implementing in our business have a very singular focus: enabling the company to emerge from the Covid-19 context as a structural winner.  Our ambition is to fully restart our operations as soon as travel restrictions reduce, at all times protecting the health of customers and employees.”

Váradi noted that Wizz had expanded its network of 14 bases “without materially increasing our overall cost base”. Recent additions include Cardiff, in the UK, as well as Bari, Italy, and Oslo, Norway. The carrier had 137 aircraft at the end of the quarter, with an average fleet age of 5.5 years, and seat count of 203 seats.

“We are grateful for the support of our dedicated team of employees, through which we have evolved from the Covid-19 crisis to continue to strengthen the competitive position of the company whilst improving the financial position for the near and longer term,” said Váradi. “Our confidence has meant we have continued to invest in our fleet, in our network, and in the leadership and governance of the company.

“We always aspire to put passengers first, be it in the continued development of our booking platform or in how we prioritize servicing disruptions as a result of Covid-19 as evidenced for example by a nearly fully automated rebooking and refund process.”

Váradi said Wizz was “especially proud” to begin its Wizz Air Abu Dhabi operations on January 15, 2021.

“All these developments and strategic initiatives will enable the Company to emerge from the Covid-19 context as a structural winner,” he added.

Wizz Air has also updated its travel insurance option to include Covid-19-cover though its partner provider Chubb.

The policy now covers medical related expenses when travelling abroad if customers contract Covid-19 on their trip, or cancellations as a result of Covid, on top of lost, stolen or damaged baggage and missed departure.