According to József Váradi, the CEO of Wizz Air, the Hungarian low-cost airline is already performing at the pre-crisis level thanks to the unstoppable desire of people to travel as soon as it is allowed by countries’ epidemiological measures. As a result, by the end of the month, Wizz Air will reach its 2019 capacity and may even exceed it this summer.
According to József Váradi, as soon as any ease of restrictions is announced, dozens of people reserve their flight tickets for the summer which shows that travel today is not a question of desire, much more a question of possibility based on countries’ epidemiological measures. The CEO argues that life will not be the same after the pandemic. As he says, this year’s booking numbers show that people’s desire to travel is not diminishing.
Currently, Wizz Air already meets 90% of its weekly capacity of 2019. Moreover, based on the trends,
the CEO is confident that they will fully return to pre-epidemic levels by the end of July.
However, he also added that the current situation is like a roller coaster for all the players in the tourism sector. Therefore, it is worth being aware of the worrying news on how different viral mutations affect pandemic numbers that might become a political factor sooner or later. Accordingly, despite the growing demand for travel in the summer, the post-summer period should also be considered, which may still hold unexpected difficulties.
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The CEO hopes that thanks to the increasing vaccination rate in several countries, of which Hungary is one of the pioneers, and with Western Europe also catching up, the population will be much more protected after the summer, which might result in more balanced decision-making by governments.
“I do not think we are at the end of this story yet,” says the company’s executive, adding that at some point, we must accept that we need to live with these viruses while minimising their effect.
As the Hungarian news portal hvg reports, together with last year’s summer growth, industry turnover fell 73%. Wizz Air also incurred a loss of EUR 600 million, which could only be offset by a Hungarian government subsidy of EUR 2 million. As far as other national airlines are concerned, Lufthansa received 10 billion, Air France-KLM 12 billion, and LOT 800 million from national governments.
According to József Váradi, thanks to the efficient operation of Wizz Air, they can start the reopening in good condition, including high-level administration, employing roughly 300 people, an efficient online booking system visited by one billion people, and modern aircraft with 20% lower fuel consumption. The latter is also more economical due to the high occupancy of the machines; therefore, the ticket price is cheaper, which increases the occupancy rate.
It has also been revealed that the Hungarian low-cost airline does not plan to enter the US market. According to the CEO, short, medium-haul and long-haul flights should be selected separately, and in the latter, Wizz Air would not be able to gain an advantage based on the fact that several companies have already given a try, unsuccessfully.
“I think our time has come,” said the CEO ambitiously, adding that despite the crisis, Wizz Air is one of the four airlines in the world that keep credit rating agencies in the recommended investment range, and they also have good liquidity, which they try to take advantage of.
In addition to fleet development, the airline has entered several new markets, opening a total of 17 new operating bases during the pandemic.
Presumably, the current fleet of 140 aircraft will be expanded to 500 aircraft within 5 years. However, the company is not considering taking part in the purchase of Budapest Airport which – according to the CEO – is out of the company’s profile. As József Váradi says “Wizz Air is good at taking people from A to B, efficiently, safely, cheaply,” which they will try to take to an even higher level in the future.