Wizz Air Eyes Gatwick Expansion As Others Pull Out

Wizz Air is considering opening a new second British hub out of Gatwick this week, as other airlines such as Virgin Atlantic and British Airways make moves to reduce operations. The carrier recently opened a new hub in Abu Dhabi and is looking to expand the future of its operations.

Wizz Air logo
Wizz Air is eying Gatwick as the next big hub airport. Photo: Getty Images

Wizz Air ambitions

As other airlines wither and shrink in the aviation crisis, Wizz Air is making plans to rapidly expand.

Recently the low-cost carrier revealed five new routes from its Abu Dhabi hub in the Middle East, flying back towards European hubs. These feeder routes will facilitate future traffic onwards into Africa, Asia, and other parts of the Middle East.

The carrier has a significant number of new aircraft on order. It has 268 Airbus A320 family planes due from the planemaker, including 20 of the long-range Airbus A321XLR aircraft. With so many airframes due to be delivered (22 in the next 14 months, despite the current crisis), the carrier is keen to try and establish more routes.

Wizz Air A321-200 from behind
Wizz Air operates an all-Airbus fleet. Photo: Getty Images

Enter Gatwick airport.

London’s Gatwick Airport has always been an in-demand airport for airlines. While the more prominent flag carriers such as British Airways have mostly focused on Heathrow, Gatwick provides international facilities but at a lower cost. This has let airlines such as Norwegian, Virgin Atlantic, and easyJet establish bases there.

Wizz Air currently operates ten aircraft out of London’s Luton Airport (with five new routes opening next month), but the airport is smaller and doesn’t have the best geographical location for travelers. Compared to its two main European rivals Ryanair and easyJet, Wizz Air has always struggled to penetrate much of the incredibly lucrative London market.

Wizz Air, Ryanair, Easyjet
Wizz Air has unable to penetrate the British strongholds of Ryanair and easyJet. Photo: Getty Images

Wizz Air tried to purchase slots at Gatwick via the sale of Thomas Cook but was beaten out in a bidding war with easyJet.

“We’ve been looking at Gatwick for a long time, and we absolutely have the ambition to build a base there,” said Chief Executive Officer Jozsef Varadi to Bloomberg

But now that Virgin Atlantic has called it quits, British Airways is planning on reducing operations and Norwegian unlikely be able to remain for much longer, plenty of room just opened up for Wizz Air. The carrier would likely swoop in and buy up as many slots as it can.

“We wouldn’t want to lease slots,” Varadi said in the same interview. “You don’t make an investment in building up a business, and the other guy then changes his mind.”

How would the Wizz Air Gatwick hub look?

It is hard to say how big the Wizz Air operation will become at Gatwick, as the airport has more facilities and more slots, it could be double the size of Luton. But the airport is more expensive than the Luton operation and may limit the initial ambitious goals.

A possibility is that Wizz Air might base several Airbus A321XLR aircraft there for long-haul flights to distant hubs in the Middle East, and potentially, connecting to fellow Indigo Partners airline Frontier in the United States.

As a fan of the airline, this author can’t wait to ‘Wizz‘ off to a destination in Europe for just a few pounds.

What do you think? Would you like Wizz Air to be at Gatwick? Let us know down in the comments.