Growing Wizz Air adds destinations, flights, planes

Transport

Wizz Air announced it would be adding commercial flights to Lisbon and Maastricht in a Budapest press conference today.

The low-cost airline said that it would begin the new routes by spring of next year, and that it will be adding additional flights to its existing destinations, so that it will have a total of 17 new flights by spring of 2015.

Wizz Air also announced yesterday that it would buy its ninth new Airbus A320 planes by spring, and that it is projecting 15% growth year-on-year in 2015.

Based in Budapest, and specializing in cheap, low-frills flights, Wizz Air has been growing at an impressive pace since their founding ten years ago. In 2012, when Hungary’s last real national airline, Malév, collapsed, Wizz Air had 12 million travelers, which was 12% more than the year before, when Malév was still operating. “That’s actually the biggest growth in the European aviation sector,” József Váradi, the Hungarian CEO of Wizz Air, said at the time.

Growth continued, with 13.5 million travelers in 2013 and bookings in Q1 2014 going at a slightly faster pace, according to the company’s own website, wizzair.com. The company now claims to be “the largest low-cost airline in Central and Eastern Europe”, citing Innovata, a leading source of airline schedules data, and based on scheduled departing seat capacity for the year ending on March 31, 2014.

Meanwhile, thanks to carmakers in Hungary, airports have been upgraded in Győr and Kecskemét, and Wizz is being courted to serve those sights with a commercial airliner.

The expansion of Győr-Pér Airport, with a price tag of €6.6 mln, was officially inaugurated on July 3. The airport is now capable of accommodating larger airliners, like the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320.

The expansion was possible due to the support, and passenger traffic, of the Audi factory in Győr. Thomas Faustmann, the managing director of Audi Hungária Motor, said 165,000 passengers have used the airport over the past ten years, including 30,000 last year alone. He added that direct flights between Győr and Ingolstadt, where Audi HQ is located, save the company 120,000 work hours a year compared to the time it would take to make the journey by car.

At Kecskemét, where Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Hungary Kft. has been in operation since 2012, a similar demand for commercial flights is being felt, and for similar reasons. Sightings of Wizz Air jets taking off and landing there in early July fueled speculation that Wizz will expand flights to that airport soon.

Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister-designate Péter Szijjártó has previously maintained that the government would like to see commercial flights to both Győr and Kecskemét. "The Hungarian government will provide all the support necessary to increase the passenger traffic in Győr, so we are in the process of constant negotiations with Wizz Air about the initiation of public flights,” Szijjártó said.

Szijjártó has reportedly said that an agreement on a new route between Győr-Pér and London is expected to be reached by the end of this year. Zsolt Borkai, the mayor of Győr, said that to support such a route, the airport needs an investment of several hundred billion forints – with the involvement of the state – to build a passenger terminal.

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