Hungarian low cost carrier Wizz Air are in line to receive 20 A321XLR aircraft. This comes following an order by their parent company, Indigo Partners, at the Paris Air Show. With aircraft slated for delivery from 2023 onwards, where could we see them using the jets?
It was big news at the Paris Air Show when Indigo Partners placed an order for the newly announced A321XLR. With a commitment to 50 of the type, it was one of the largest orders for the extended range version of their top selling aircraft.
Within this order, Indigo planned to split the aircraft between three of their carriers. 18 were to go to US LCC Frontier, 12 to JetSmart and Wizz Air are due to receive 20 of the A321XLRs. Deliveries expected to take three years, starting in 2023.
József Váradi, Wizz Air’s Chief Executive Officer, was clearly delighted with the purchase, saying in a press release,
“The inherent aircraft economics of the Airbus A321XLR will widen our competitive advantage for stimulating demand for air travel in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond while minimizing our environmental footprint. The A320neo family aircraft are game-changing aircraft that enhance Wizz Air’s low fare model and undisputed cost leadership in Europe.”
Frontier’s boss, Barry Biffle, was quick to spill the beans about routes to Hawaii, and even hinted at a transatlantic expansion. JetSmart too were clear they would be delving deep into South America with the plane. However, despite being assigned the largest number of the plane, Váradi was somewhat tight lipped about Wizz Air’s plans with the new aircraft.
Connecting the dots
Váradi is very good at keeping his cool under pressure, and despite being pressed many times to say what new routes they might be considering, he has, as yet, failed to crack. Speaking to Reuters after the announcement, Váradi said,
“Our network spans from the Canary Islands to Astana in Kazakhstan, from Reykjavik in Iceland to Dubai. The XLR gives use the opportunity to connect more dots in our existing network. This is what we’re looking at.”
This would suggest that Wizz are looking more to solidify its existing routes and network, rather than launch new services, at least in the short term. However, we have a feeling they’re eyeing some new destinations too. Indeed, Váradi has hinted at the airline’s plans for the new aircraft in his press release, saying,
“The A321XLR is the most cost efficient aircraft of its type and represents a significant opportunity for Wizz Air to further expand its network and connect points on the WIZZ map that are currently out of reach, given the enhanced range capability of the aircraft. Today, we are flying a number of 5-6 hour routes with great satisfaction to our customers, so the XLR will extend our outstanding value and service proposition on routes of 7-8 hours of flying.”
So, where is seven to eight hours from their hub in Hungary? Let’s take a look.
Where do Wizz fly?
Up until quite recently, Wizz had no neo aircraft in their fleet. They took delivery of their first A321neo in March this year, and up until then were reliant on the ceo versions of the A320 family. As such, their route network has very much been restricted to the capabilities of the ceo.
As much as Váradi says he wants to connect the dots, we have already seen demonstrations of his hunger to launch new routes and services.
In the last few months, Wizz have added numerous new routes to their schedule, many of which used the A321neo. Kiev has been a big focus, adding flights to Thessaloniki, Athens, Bremen, Billund and Riga. From Gdansk they added Bodo and London Gatwick, and from Warsaw a slew of new routes including Marrakech and Kutaisi, Georgia.
As we can see from the map, the range increment of the A321XLR over the A321ceo is immense. It opens up a wealth of possibilities for trips into northern Africa, India and Asia. The west cost of the US could even be on the cards. Even if new routes aren’t launched immediately, Wizz Air will be benefiting greatly from the increased efficiency of this new aircraft.
While Váradi may be thinking about consolidating his route network for the time being, we fully expect his head to be turned by the exciting possibilities that this capable new aircraft will offer. We can’t wait to see where Wizz will go next.