Wizz Air expects to accelerate profit growth by more than 20% during the winter off the back of strong 2019/20 first-half performance despite the “genuine macro-economic challenges” facing the European low-cost aviation sector.
In a trading update issued on Wednesday morning (13 November), the budget carrier revealed its H1 profits increased more than quarter to a record €371.5 million during the six months to 30 September, while passenger numbers soared 18% to 22.1 million.
Wizz now expects to post full-year net profits in the region of €335 million to €350 million, up from a forecast of €320 million to €335 million earlier this year. “On the back of a strong first half, we will be accelerating second half growth to 22%,” said Wizz chief executive Jozsef Varadi.
“Notwithstanding this faster pace of growth and the genuine macro-economic challenges which always exist, the more recent supporting market conditions mean we are seeing our business tracking towards the top end of our current net profit guidance range which gives us confidence to tighten the range to between €335 million and €350 million for the full year.”
Wizz’s H1 revenue increased 21.7% to €1.671 billion fuelled by 38.8% growth in ancillary revenue to €714 million – up 17.8% per passenger from €27.40 during H1 2018 to €32.30 during H1 2019 – and 11.4% spike in passenger ticket revenue to €957 million.
Load factor, meanwhile, increased one percentage point from 93.4% during H1 last year to 94.6% this year, despite seat capacity growth of 16.6% from 20 million to 23.4 million.
Varadi hailed the carrier’s results “an all-time high” for the first half.
“Our low-cost model delivered an 18% increase in passenger numbers, higher load factors, strong cost and yield performance with ex-fuel unit cost down 3%, and unit revenue up 3% year-on-year. These outcomes delivered a record net profit of €372 million,” he said.
Looking ahead, Varadi reinforced Wizz’s ambition to cut CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre by 30% by 2030 with the introduction of its ew Airbus A321neo aircraft, which he said the carrier would operate “with high seat count and high load factors”.
It comes after Wizz committed during H1 to a further 20 Airbus A321XLR aircraft, growing its committed fleet order to 268 new aircraft.
“These industry-leading, cost efficient aircraft will allow us to connect even more airports within our wide and diverse network,” said Varadi. Wizz currently operates more than 710 routes from 25 bases to 151 destinations across 44 countries.
He also revealed Wizz had achieved “a zero pay gap between genders in similar roles" and had recently redoubled its efforts to increase its ranks of female pilots.
“[We] will provide further details of this initiative in the coming months,” said Varadi.