Wizz Air expects Omicron ‘impact’ to continue until March

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European airline Wizz Air expects Covid-19 travel restrictions to continue to “impact” its recovery from the pandemic until the spring.

The Hungary-based budget carrier, which made a bid to buy easyJet last year, recorded an operating loss of €213.6 million for the last three months of 2021, despite Wizz’s capacity exceeding 2019 levels during peak travel weeks in the quarter.

The airline carried 7.8 million passengers between October and December – up from just 2.3 million in the same quarter of 2020, with revenue rising from €149.9 million to €408.4 million over the same period.

Wizz Air’s group CEO Jozsef Varadi said: “The emergence of the Omicron variant and renewed travel restrictions impacted our trading performance late in the quarter and we expect demand in January, February and part of March to be impacted by ongoing travel uncertainty.

“Despite the short-term headwinds, we are cautiously optimistic for a continued recovery into spring and near-full utilisation from summer onwards.”

Varadi added the airline would continue to add to its fleet, which is due to increase from 150 to 179 aircraft by the end of this year, as Wizz plans further growth to its airport bases and routes.

Wizz has added three new bases in Italy at Rome Fiumicino, Naples and Venice, as well as expanding its operations at Gatwick in the UK.

“In December, we acquired an important portfolio of slots at Gatwick airport that will enable us to grow to a base of five aircraft and will increase access to customers in the crucial London and south of England market,” said Varadi.

“As of spring, this will enable us to offer customers competitive ticket prices to a host of well-known and emerging destinations on our new A321neo fleet.”

Wizz Air said it had “continued to stimulate demand with pricing”, as well as “staying agile” in cutting capacity that was not making any money.

The airline generated more revenue from ancillaries (€246 million) than ticket prices (€162.3 million) during the final quarter of 2021.

source : businesstravelnewseurope

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