Wizz Air has ruled out launching budget flights to the US or western Mediterranean despite expanding its base at Luton airport and pressing ahead with obtaining a UK licence.
The no-frills airline will base five aircraft at Luton next year, where currently only one is stationed. The airline’s chief corporate officer, Owain Jones, said however that the carrier had no plans to veer away from operating solely to Eastern Europe.
Asked if he would follow Danish carrier Primera in launching into the budget transatlantic market, he said there were “no plans at the moment”, and said offering flights to destinations like Spain would be “a very silly thing to do”.
“Our business is very much eastern Europe, there is only one-tenth the number of seats on sale there compared with Western Europe,” he added.
Budapest-based Wizz has applied for a UK operating licence in advance of Brexit and Jones said this would be in operation by next summer, when it will start flying from Luton to Larnaca, a former Monarch Airlines route. Wizz will also launch routes to that Albanian capital Tirana plus Bratislava, Tallinn and Lviv in Ukraine.
“By the time we get to the start of these services, Wizz Air UK will be up and flying,” he said. “It will allow us to offer destinations from Luton without having to fly them in a ‘W’ pattern from abroad.”
Wizz is already Luton’s second-largest carrier behind easyJet, with 5.5 million - 32% - of the airport’s passengers, but next year will offer 6.9 million seats and 46 routes. As well as the new services, Wizz will also increase frequency from Luton to Tel Aviv, Pristina and the Romanian destination of Suceava.
Jones said the airline was responding to “very strong demand” for eastern European travel. Wizz’s investor Indigo made a massive aircraft order an order at last week’s Dubai Airshow, with 146 new aircraft destined for the airline. Wizz will receive 72 Airbus A320s and 74 of the bigger A321s, underlining its intent to expand massively in the next few years.
Jones hinted, however, that the carrier did not have its sights on Gatwick despite Monarch’s demise leaving space there. “We have one route there, it’s not a focus for us.”