Wizz Air, which bills itself as the largest low-cost airline in Central and Eastern Europe, today announced five new West Balkan routes from Budapest that will commence in April 2017, according to a press release sent to the Budapest Business Journal.
The new routes will connect with five capitals in the region: Skopje in Macedonia, Podgorica in Montenegro, Tirana in Albania, Pristina in Kosovo, and Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Speaking at a press conference in Budapest today, József Váradi, CEO of Wizz Air, said the announcement further underlines the airlineʼs commitment to Hungary as the “de facto Hungarian national carrier.”
“In the past few months we have made several major announcements, including basing a new aircraft at Budapest in April, revealing the unique Budapest livery that is designed to promote the city with Budapest 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Bid elements, announcing four new routes to start in 2017, and today adding another five strategically important routes to our Budapest network,” said Váradi. “Today’s announcement is the result of the first ever example of imposing a public service obligation in the aviation industry in Hungary. We believe that this unprecedented example will help stimulate economic and business relations between the countries, as well as further improving accessibility to Budapest where Wizz has the most diverse network, offering 59 routes to 28 countries.”
Earlier this year the Ministry of National Development announced a public procurement tender in the Official Journal of the European Union for operating routes connecting Hungary with important economic destinations in the region. Wizz Air says it was awarded the concessions last week.
The Hungarian airline currently operates from two bases in the country in Budapest and Debrecen with a total of 11 aircraft; it recently announced one additional aircraft will join the Budapest fleet from April 2017. The airline employs more than 1,000 people as flight and cabin crew, office and support staff.
In the 12 months to November 30, 2016, Wizz Air says it carried 3.4 million passengers on its Budapest routes, indirectly further supporting more than 2,300 local jobs. Airports lobbying body Airports Council International reckons on the creation of 750 on-site jobs for every one million carried passengers per year, the press release notes.
The airline already earlier announced four other new routes to be launched in 2017, to Faro, Hanover, Bergen and Lamezia Terme.