Wednesday, September 17, 2008

WizzAir flies high

This is a summary of the WizzAir press conference with airline's CEO taking part. The conference was postponed from Sept. 10 to Sept. 17, because... somebody booked him a wrong flight :)

Budget airline is filling the gaps after Centralwings left unused routes

Hungarian low-cost carrier's CEO came to Warsaw to present future plans on the Polish market. Jozsef Varadi underscored the strengthening position of WizzAir, which is at the moment the biggest LCC operating from/to Poland. It is also the leader of low-cost airlines among the carriers in the Central and Eastern Europe, even outpacing the traditional carriers from the region.
“We served 4.2 million passengers in 2007 and forecast serving 5.8 million passengers in 2008, while LOT is predicting to serve 4.7 million passengers this year and CSA Czech Airlines, which is the biggest legacy carrier in the region, will have 5.5 million passengers this year,” boasted Varadi, who quoted OAG statistics saying that four out of ten LCC passengers chooses WizzAir. According to WizzAir's CEO it is all thanks to the skill of filling the gaps left by other carriers. “After Centralwings recently switched to charter flights, we were able to fill in the routes left,” explained Varadi.

Currently his airline has a total of nine bases, four of which are located in Poland – Katowice, Gdańsk, Poznań and Warsaw. It operates a total of over 120 routes and WizzAir fleet consists of 19 Airbus A320 planes which are on average 3 years old. The airline signed a contract with Airbus to purchase additional jets, thus expanding its fleet to 42 in 2011 and 82 in 2014.

Jozsef Varadi also explained some market trends that WizzAir is following to remain competitive. “We notice that people from Poland that were flying to work on the British Isles are moving back for good. Exchange rate of Polish zloty to British pound has changed and Poland regained its attractiveness as a place to work. This is why we withdraw from some of the British routes, because of the lack of customer demand,” said Varadi, giving an example of Wrocław-Doncaster route, which was mainly used by Polish seasonal workers. “On the other hand Polish disposable income grows, so more money can be spend on leisure,” added Varadi, whose airline opened more of new southern destinations, such as Italy and Spain. WizzAir's CEO announced a new southern route from Poland – a twice a week flights from Poznań to Rome Fiumicino airport. In total WizzAir closed 9 Poland-UK routes, but launched 17 new ones to southern Europe destinations.

WizzAir is the only LCC operating in Poland that does not reveal its financial results. Mr. Varadi was also reluctant to talk about them this time. “As a private company it is a deliberate choice not to disclose our results. We see it as an advantage over our competitors,” replied Varadi. He only said that the financial year closed in April was the second profitable year for the airline, and if the macro-economical conditions are favorable, WizzAir will keep making operating profit. The only number he mentioned was the company cash resources - Eur.80 (zł.266) million.
Marcin Poznań

LCC's share in CEE market
WizzAir 22.5%
Ryanair 17.5%
SkyEurope 11.6%
EasyJet 9.7%
Germanwings 7.3%
Norwegian 6.1%
Others 25.3%
OAG Capacity Statistics

Passengers served in Poland by WizzAir
2006 2.1 million
2007 2.8 million
2008 3.7 million

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