With air travel down across the industry, some airlines will recover faster than others. In the case of European budget carrier Wizz Air, recovery already seems to be on the horizon. In fact, Wizz founder and CEO József Váradi has told the BBC that his airline is selling around 75% of seats on its flights right now.
Of course, that’s 75% of drastically reduced services. The airline had cut capacity by more than a third and grounded roughly 85% of its fleet over the month of March, according to FlightGlobal.
However, since then, the low-cost carrier has resumed some routes despite travel restrictions remaining in place. With some countries relaxing restrictions through multi-week phases, Wizz Air could be well-positioned to capture post-COVID-19 demand.
Desperate to be back in the air
Váradi told the BBC that people are now flying to visit relatives or travel to second homes. Some are flying just because they “want to break out of the current lockdown,” he says.
“One of the trends we are sensing is young people want to be back in the air quite quickly,” Váradi adds.
Amid the rising demand, the airline’s boss is frustrated by a lack of common international standards for COVID-19 prevention on aircraft (although IATA recently released some suggestions.) Váradi says that out of the 45 countries Wizz serves, no two countries are applying the same standards – or are interpreting them differently. “It’s a bit of a zoo,” he says.
Still, Wizz Air is pressing on with certain expansion plans despite the devastating toll this pandemic has had on the industry. The airline has made news recently as it eyes expansion over to London Gatwick and has already resumed service out of Luton.
But that’s not all. Beyond London, the carrier is going ahead with opening a new base of operations in Lviv, Ukraine this summer. From Ukraine’s second-largest city, a Wizz Air Airbus A320 will fly to five cities in five different countries across Europe. Looking far south, the airline revealed that it will be launching five new routes from its new Abu Dhabi hub. Starting June 3rd, the airline will fly from Abu Dhabi to Bucharest and Budapest.
While Wizz Air’s website is lacking when it comes to updating visitors on new policies, its Twitter and YouTube make mention of new procedures introduced as of the end of April. With the resumption of flights from Luton airport, passengers are now required to wear face masks:
“This is why we at Wizz Air have introduced extra health & safety measures in and out of our cabin, so you can say yes to experiencing more freely and no to giving up. Yes to wearing face masks. Yes to thorough cleaning of the aircraft each day. Yes to sanitizing wipes. Yes to social distancing. Yes to contactless payments. Yes to dreaming more.”
However, unlike many US carriers, the airline doesn’t seem to have a strict policy on social distancing with regards to blocking middle seats.
Do you think Wizz Air is moving too quickly to resume services? Or is this a smart and well-calculated move? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!