Wizz Air eyes UK-led recovery as growing costs hit bottom line

The boss of Wizz Air has told Sky News he expects the company’s UK investment and pent-up demand for travel in the country to help lead its fightback this summer from the coronavirus crisis.

Jozsef Varadi was speaking after the Hungary-based carrier reported a third quarter operating loss of €213.6m (£178.3m) and warned its final quarter loss was likely to exceed that sum given continuing pandemic restrictions and a leap in costs.

Its fuel bill surged by more than 260% between October and December versus the same period last year – partly a consequence of operating more flights but also a result of climbing global oil prices.

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Airport charges were over 220% up. Sales were 172% higher.


Mr Varadi said he expected demand to remain tough until the spring but that Wizz – aided by 15 take off and landing slots it had bought at Gatwick Airport last year – was planning to operate 50% more capacity in August and September than in the summer of 2019.

He told Ian King Live: “Looking at summer we are a lot more optimistic, especially taking the UK as an example, lifting government restrictions (is) seeing demand rebounding very strongly and we are seeing a much better spring and summer coming.”

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Mr Varadi has previously predicted a price war between air operators this year.

He said on Wednesday that “some airlines will win, some airlines will lose” but argued Wizz was well placed to capitalise.

“We have been investing into our network, our markets, into the fleet and people to make sure that not only are we recovering from the COVID situation, but also we are taking advantage by growing the business once the market resumes,” he told Reuters news agency.

“We are expecting a very strong recovery path of demand in the next few months.”

Shares in airlines and holiday companies were among those to benefit in a broad-based rally on Wednesday – with Wizz gaining by more than 1.5% following a volatile week for stocks globally.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: “Wizz Air’s results for the last three months of calendar 2021 perfectly illustrate the sector’s predicament.

“Passenger numbers are picking up and there are more bums on seats per available plane. Unfortunately, the business is still loss-making, which is unsustainable in an industry that has high fixed costs.

“Nonetheless, Wizz Air remains ever the optimist, which it must be when you consider it has picked up more airport slots at Gatwick airport and ordered more aircraft.

“It has bet hard that recovery will pick up soon and that its investments will help it secure an even bigger slice of the aviation market.”