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Wizz Air expects 50% revenue rise in business year started April 1

Transport

Hungarian low-fare airline Wizz Air expects a 50% passenger rise in its business year started April 1, in spite of stagnating passenger numbers on its Budapest flights, CEO József Váradi told a press conference in Budapest on Wednesday. While airport fees add an average €10 per passenger to costs, fees at Ferihegy Airport add €23.6 to costs. The fees at Ferihegy account for 20-30% of Wizz Air's costs, he said. In addition to the fees, Budapest Airport, which operates the airport, also charges €75-80 per flight to bring passengers to and from the aircraft in a bus. Wizz Air has negotiated with Budapest Airport on the issue of fees, but their demands have fallen on "deaf ears", Váradi said.

The airline is considering other alternative airports in Hungary, such as ones near Debrecen, Győr and Székesfehérvár. Wizz Air expects to carry more than 3 million passengers in its business year started April 1. By 2008, it expects to become the largest airline in the region, beating even Polish airline Lot which carries an annual 4.7 million passengers. Wizz Air is already among the leading airlines in Hungary and it accounts for 28% of low-fare airline capacity. Wizz Air also has the highest number of destinations -- twelve -- in its winter timetable. Wizz Air's flights are 80% full on average, Váradi said. By 2012, Wizz Air aims to carry an annual 20 million passengers, expanding its fleet of aircraft from nine 180-passenger Airbus 320s to 53 aircraft. The company's financial situation is stable, Váradi said, answering a question. He added that Wizz Air would become profitable at the operating level after 2-3 years of building up its market.

The company has no plans to list its shares in the short term, as it does not require any outside financing, but a listing could provide flexible financing for aircraft purchases in the mid-term, he said. A listing would depend on the premium the company could expect as well as the state of the market, he added. Asked about the condition of state-owned Hungarian airline Malév, which Váradi earlier headed, he said he saw it running into financial difficulties in 1-2 months. Despite the development of the air travel market, Malév's losses continue to grow, he added. (Mti-Eco)

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