Hungarian low-fare airline Wizz Air Kft expects a 50% rise in the number of passengers in its business year started April 1, in spite of stagnating passenger numbers on its Budapest flights, managing director József Váradi told a press conference in Budapest on Wednesday.
Váradi said high fees at Budapest's Ferihegy Airport posed the biggest obstacle to passenger growth. While airport fees add an average €10 per passenger to costs, fees at Ferihegy Airport add €23.6 to costs. Fees at Ferihegy account for 20%-30% of Wizz Air's costs, he said. In addition to the fees, Budapest Airport Zrt, 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-seater Airbus 320s to 53 aircraft. Váradi said 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.