It is often said to ‘never let a crisis go to waste’ and that certainly appears to be exactly the case for Central and Eastern European specialist Wizz Air that intends to use its low-cost platform and uncertainty among its peers to strengthen its position within the industry.
The coronavirus crisis has hit the airline as hard as others and during the pandemic’s spread even saw the airline’s single-aisle aircraft turn up on the other side of the Atlantic on repatriation flights from the United States. But, with more countries starting to relax travel restrictions it aims to lead the recovery from the front.
It has already resumed a limited network of flights and has plans to grow. The airline has no plans to wait from others and collaborate on solutions, but do gout alone and do thing’s the ‘Wizz way’, as its CEO and founder Jozsef Varadi highlighted during a recent webinar interview in the latest of CAPA – Centre for Aviation’s well-received CAPA Masterclass sessions.
The executive presented a bullish view, and in spite of the frustrations of multiple and fragmented travel restrictions across Europe, he said most people were “excited about travel opportunities” and he expected “normal capitalism” to return.
Wizz Air’s strong cash position (more airlines should be “managed for cash and not just paper profit,” he said) should see it through an extended crisis. But, Wizz Air doesn’t intend just to return to its previous normal, but to grow on that. Mr Varadi highlighted it plans to grow its fleet from 121 aircraft currently to 145 within a year as he sees opportunities for the airline to stimulate demand with its low cost model and to benefit from the exit of weaker airlines.
You can read extended analysis of Mr Varadi’s comments and Wizz Air’s current strategy in this recently published CAPA insight report. The respected aviation intelligence provider said the carrier is well positioned versus competitors to emerge strongly from the crisis, with its low costs allowing it to stimulate demand with low fares in the ‘Wizz Air to recover in one year, vs 2-3 for airline industry – Varadi’ report.
Speaking during the CAPA Masterclass Mr Varadi said: “Wizz Air is very efficient and new technology-based relative to the industry, which is old technology and high cost. Post virus, we will be a much better competitor, a better business relative to the industry.” But, he predicted that there would be a significant difference in the speed and nature of recovery of different operators.
“The more pioneering, more entrepreneurial, more focused, more efficient players like Wizz Air will come out first. For us the recovery is going to be around a year – for the industry, two to three years,” he explained. This will see Wizz Air cement its position in Central and Eastern Europe, but will also include Western Europe and markets further east – its partnership with Abu Dhabi highlights this intent.
LEARN MORE… Wizz Air is one of the few airlines in Europe that appears prepared to tackle this devastating time and lead the industry out. You can hear more from Mr Varadi and the plans of the airline in the recording of the CAPA Masterclass session from the start of May-2020, which also includes additional insights on when consumer confidence will return and what customer behaviour will look like from Hugh Aitken, VP commercial at Skyscanner. Click here or on the image below to view the recording.