The global health crisis has rocked the aviation industry from top to bottom. However, from the outset, Wizz Air showed its confidence to emerge well positioned once the dust has settled. The airline’s CEO, József Váradi, spoke with Simple Flying about how his company has been preparing and what the prospects look like for the low-cost carrier.
Since the start of the pandemic, Wizz’ operational focus has been centered on rebuilding capacity as well as taking advantage of new opportunities presented where competitors have scaled back or exited the market. Before the pandemic, the airline had been looking at several expansion opportunities. The changing conditions meant that it could bring these forward owing to its strong financial position.
Altogether, it feels that only the most resilient carriers will survive the long-term effects of the crisis. With further economic downturn expected, operators with good cash reserves, a low-cost structure, and an agile business model will be the ones to emerge as winners.
Váradi believes that in every crisis, there is an opportunity. He shares that his company has always understood the importance of being an adaptable and agile business. However, this has become an even more important part of our strategy this year.
Being nimble enough to move into retrenching markets, reallocate capacity as demand dictates, and push ahead with expansion plans has meant that Wizz will emerge from the crisis strongly. Ultimately, it is making sure that it seizes the opportunities available in market vacuums, and it will continue to leverage its cost advantage to grow.
Monitoring the situation
When lockdown restrictions are lifted, Wizz expects to be operating close to full capacity within half a year. Váradi highlights that the airline is capable of recovering quickly after its experience last summer when it operated 80% of its capacity in August.
This year, Wizz will keep a close eye on restrictions by nation to define its recovery path. Nonetheless, when the time comes, it is well prepared and is looking to capitalize on its recent success across regions such as Western Europe.
“Over the past five years, we have expanded beyond our eastern European base across western Europe. In particular, we have grown our West to West leisure network from the UK. The leisure routes we added last summer from London Luton were hugely popular when there were no travel restrictions, and with the launch of our Gatwick, Doncaster and Cardiff bases we now offer more leisure routes than ever to our UK customers,” Váradii told Simple Flying
“We are also excited about the prospects of our recent market moves in Austria, Germany, Italy, and Norway that have further diversified our geographical footprint, creating a solid foundation for post-COVID-19 recovery and structural growth in the future.”
Plenty of potential
Váradi’s team has been encouraged by the response to its new bases at Gatwick, Doncaster Sheffield, and Cardiff. After UK travel restrictions ease later this year, The executive anticipates that demand for flying will pick up quickly. He shares that they want to travel again as soon as they can do so. Moreover, with its recent UK expansion, it has strengthened its position for this rebound in travel.
Altogether, there are several transformations occurring across the aviation industry. For instance, the UK kicked off the year ending its transition period after leaving the European Union.
Wizz doesn’t anticipate that this move will impact its operations as Wizz Air UK has all the permits that are needed to operate flights between the UK and EU member states. However, in the longer-term, Brexit may result in further market consolidation, which the carrier would be well-positioned to benefit from as a potential consolidating platform. Moreover, the company yesterday launched flights with Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, showing its intent to maintain a strong presence across the continents.
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