Wizz Air Remains Bullish On The Future Despite Passenger Drop

Despite plunging passenger traffic in the first month of the year, Wizz Air’s CEO, Jozsef Varadi, remains optimistic about the rest of 2021. The airline flew 81% fewer passengers this January than it did in the same month last year, with load factors down to just 61%. Nevertheless, Varadi believes Wizz will emerge a winner, and believes 2021 will be a ‘transition year’ out of the COVID crisis.

Wizz Air Airbus A320
Wizz Air has suffered plunging passenger numbers but remains positive about its future. Photo: Getty Images

Passenger traffic plunges 81%

Wizz Air has today published its passenger traffic statistic for January 2021, along with its CO2 emissions figures. The airline carried just 573,000 passengers during the month, just 27% of its usual capacity. The airline reported load factors of 61%.

Compared to January 2021, demand for passenger travel was down by a staggering 81.8%. Last year, the airline flew more than three million passengers in January, with a load factor of 90.2%. This year, with both capacity and passenger demand at rock bottom, the airline has a steep climb to endue to get back to where it was.

On the year to date figures, Wizz has dropped capacity by 54.2% over the past 12 months. The load factor has averaged 71.4%, down from 83.7% in the 12 months to January 31st, 2020. As would be expected, this has resulted in a significant CO2 reduction, down 76% year on year. However, the CO2 per passenger, with such low load factors, is up by more than a third (34.9%) from January 2020.

Nevertheless, the airline maintains that its per passenger and per kilometer emissions remain lower than any of its rivals.

Wizz Airbus A321neo
Varadi believes Wizz will emerge a winner. Photo: Airbus

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CEO says Wizz will emerge a winner

Throughout the pandemic, Wizz Air’s CEO, Jozsef Varadi, has remained bullish on the outcome for the European low-cost carrier. Scaling up while others scaled back was the hallmark of the airline, and while not everything went completely as planned, he remains optimistic that success is an inbuilt reality. In the company’s third-quarter results announcement, Varadi said,

“The initiatives we are implementing in our business have a very singular focus: enabling the Company to emerge from the Covid-19 context as a structural winner.  Our ambition is to fully restart our operations as soon as travel restrictions reduce, at all times protecting the health of customers and employees.”

The airline has been hard at work opening new routes and bases throughout the pandemic. Photo: Wizz Air

Varadi cited the company’s ongoing efforts to optimize its cost structure and drive down its cash burn as reasons to be confident in the outcome for the airline. He highlighted the recent €500 million three year bond secured by the airline as a reflection of its viability as a business, and noted that the rollout of the COVID vaccine gave more reasons to be cheerful. Varadi commented,

“Wizz Air is even better positioned to deal with the uncertainties associated with Covid-19 and now with vaccinations being rolled out across our key markets we believe 2021 will be a transition year out of the Covid-19 crisis.”

The optimism of the airline’s CEO is well-founded. Wizz finished the quarter with €1.2 billion of cash in the bank. It continues to press forward with new bases and routes and celebrated the successful launch of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi last month.