Hungarian LCC Wizz Air Celebrates Its 16th Anniversary

Hungary’s low-cost carrier Wizz Air today celebrates the 16th anniversary of its first flight. On May 19th, 2004, the purple liveried carrier commenced operations with a flight from Katowice (KTW) to London Luton Airport (LTN).

Wizz Air, 16 Years, Still Expanding
Wizz Air today celebrated its 16th birthday. Photo: Wizz Air

Sixteen years ago, hardly anybody had heard about a new start-up airline called Wizz. Fast forward to today, and the carrier is one of Europe’s largest LCCs alongside the likes of easyJet and Ryanair. Of course, given the current situation, the airline has had to scale back operations slightly. However, all eyes are currently on the future with plans to launch a subsidiary in Abu Dhabi later this year.

16 years strong

Unlike poor old Starlux who entered the current crisis with barely any history, Wizz Air has 16-years of experience under its belt. As a result, the airline now calls itself the leading low-cost carrier in Central and Eastern Europe. Wizz also calls itself the greenest airline in Europe. This is something that surely irks Ryanair.

To celebrate reaching 16 years, Wizz’s cabin crew took it upon themselves to choreograph a dance to Madonna’s Holiday. As you likely missed it, they thankfully released a short video:

Since its first flight 16 years ago, Wizz Air has grown colossally to become one of the leading low-cost carriers in Europe, particularly in the east. Indeed, the airline has so far carried 240 million passengers, averaging around 1.5 million passengers per year.

Wizz now operates a fleet of 121 Airbus aircraft with an average fleet age of 5.4 years. This makes it the youngest fleet in Europe. By contrast, according to Planespotters, easyJet’s fleet of 335 aircraft has an average age of 7.9 years, which founder Stelios would like to keep that way. Meanwhile, Ryanair’s 467 aircraft have an average age of 8.6 years.

What’s next?

In an emailed comment to Simple Flying, the airline’s CEO József Váradi mentioned that the aviation industry was in a challenging place. However, the airline is still confident about its growth in the future:

Although this milestone comes at what is an extremely challenging time for the aviation industry at large, the key drivers behind WIZZ’s success to date are what continue to set us apart from our competitors, as the cost leader and the fastest growing airline in Europe. We feel confident about the future of flying as we begin to rebuild the infrastructure in the air, lead the way with new health and wellbeing measures and stimulate demand with our ultra-low fares.”

Air Arabia, Etihad, Abu Dhabi
Despite the current crisis, Wizz is still keen on expansion. Photo: Wizz Air

At a time when other airlines are busy scaling back their operations, Wizz Air is actively looking towards the future. Last month we reported that despite the current crisis, Wizz was looking to accelerate the launch of its new Abu Dhabi subsidiary.  Indeed, it even announced its first routes earlier this month.

According to the airline, it is still selling 75% of seats available on its aircraft on average. Finally, while Virgin is pulling out of London Gatwick, Wizz would be thrilled to fill the gap left behind.

Have you flown with Wizz in the past 16 years? How did you find it? Let us know your experiences in the comments!