Wizz Air has said several "encouraging trends" have given the budget carrier a sustained recovery from the Covid crisis this year, despite posting a €576 million (£497 million) full-year loss for the year to 31 March.
Boss Jozsef Varadi said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the business’s recovery from the pandemic, despite it coming later than the carrier would have liked owing to Covid travel restrictions in Europe remaining in place "longer than anticipated".
Varadi said Wizz’s 2021/22 full-year (12 months to 31 March 2022) would continue to be a "transitional year", adding: "Whereas the recovery pattern continues to be difficult to forecast, the trends are encouraging and we are ready as ever."
Wizz on Wednesday (2 June) revealed passenger numbers fell 75% during the year to 31 March to just 10.2 million, while revenue was down 73% to €739 million (£638 million). The carrier’s underlying loss for the year was €482 million (£416 million) compared with a €345 million (£298 million) profit in 2019/20.
"This was probably one of the most challenging years for the aviation industry," said chief executive Varadi. "Despite these unprecedented challenges, we stayed in control of our cost structure, preserved our cash position and maintained our investment grade balance sheet."
The carrier achieved cost savings by reducing headcount across all departments by 19% and cutting salaries by 14% on average. Wizz finished the year with a total cash of €1.617 billion (£1.4 billion) and was able to reduce fourth-quarter cash burn to €84 million (£72 million).
This was supported by access to £300 million from the UK government’s Covid corporate financing facility, which Wizz says it will repay in February 2022, and a €500 million (£431 million) Eurobond, which matures in January 2024.