Wizz Air’s Chief Commercial Officer confirmed that when the Airbus A321XLR enters the Wizz Air fleet in 2023, the focus will be on keeping costs down rather than improving the passenger experience. Speaking exclusively with Simple Flying, the group’s CCO said they were not concerned about potential issues for passengers.
Comfort second to price
Ever since it was announced, the Airbus A321XLR has been slightly controversial. The aircraft has a range of 8,700 km (4,700 NM), meaning passengers could spend around 10 hours on a narrowbody aircraft. For airlines like Wizz Air looking to expand their network and reach new markets, it’s understandably an appealing aircraft. But many passengers are unsure how enjoyable the flight would be.
Speaking exclusively to Simple Flying, George Michalopoulos, Wizz Air Chief Commercial Officer, said the group is more concerned with keeping costs down than improving the passenger experience. When asked if the airline would try to give extra legroom or seat pitch in the aircraft, Michalopoulos said the airline would prefer to keep prices low. He said,
“We don’t expect this to be an issue, rather an opportunity. And at the end of the day, consumers are looking to save on travel and spend that money when they reach their destination.”
Mr Michalopoulos confirmed that although the airline has looked into seat technology and the possibility of increasing the seat pitch to provide more comfort, cost would be the driving factor. Wizz Air is known for keeping its costs down, and the XLR will allow the airline to operate longer flights to new markets, especially from its new Abu Dhabi hub.
The CCO also hinted that the XLR could operate flights to destinations further east than India. This would undoubtedly mean very long flights in the narrowbody cabin.
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New markets, new routes, and less competition
The A321XLR would open up new markets for the airline. The aircraft is already being touted as a game-changer for the entire industry. The extended range means point-to-point operations are now possible where previously a hub and spoke model was preferable.
The only question remaining is whether there will be enough demand for long, direct flights in a narrowbody cabin. If the price is low enough, Wizz Air’s A321XLR could boost the airline’s position as a global player. Certainly, Michalopoulos thinks so, calling the aircraft an “opportunity.”
Wizz Air is already operating narrowbody aircraft on flights of six hours and has been getting positive feedback. This suggests that passengers are prepared to sit for hours if it means saving some money.
The lower capacity of the A321XLR combined with its long-range makes it perfect for opening up long, thin routes where there is not enough demand for a widebody. These routes tend to have less competition and could mean Wizz Air is right; passengers don’t care how much legroom they have, so long as the price is right.
What do you think of the A321XLR? Would you be happy on a narrowbody if it meant saving money? Or would you rather pay extra and fly on a widebody? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments.