Gatwick Expansion: What Wizz Air Plans To Do With Its New Slots

Wizz Air has slots for 29 new routes from Gatwick this summer, but will they happen? Four are unserved from London, while Wizz Air from Luton already serves 80%. It’s a very different picture at Gatwick, though, where seven in ten would be new to its route map this year.

Wizz Air UK A321
While Wizz Air UK might launch multiple new routes from Gatwick, Moscow Vnukovo, where this A321ceo is landing, isn’t due to be one of them. Photo: Getty Images.

Wizz Air UK has received slots at London Gatwick to start 29 new routes this summer, examining Airport Coordination Limited’s Start of Season Report for S21 shows. This excludes five routes listed (Athens, Lanzarote, Malaga, Malta, and Tenerife South) but which have already been announced or started. Wizz Air’s UK unit had 3,594 slots approved for nearly 855,000 seats.

Gatwick Expansion: What Wizz Air Plans To Do With Its New Slots
Wizz Air secured more new slots at Gatwick for this summer than any other airline, but will it use them on these expected routes? Note: ATM = one air traffic movement. Image: Airport Coordination Limited.

Shows Wizz Air’s intention

None of the 29 routes have been announced yet, and they might not be given there’s no certainty Wizz Air will get slots in summer 2022 and onwards. However, it shows the ultra-low-cost carrier’s (ULCC) intention in terms of route development and its desire to grow at Gatwick, which became a base in October 2020 with one aircraft.

A month later, Simple Flying showed that the ULCC was unhappy that slots at the airport remained unused and were a stumbling block to its development.

Wizz Air Gatwick
Wizz Air listed these destinations from Gatwick. Image: OAG

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80% of routes are bookable from Luton

Wizz Air has 23 of these 29 routes bookable from its Luton base, with Luton by far the largest airport in its network and its first base in the UK. This raises the question of what will happen to these routes at Luton should they launch from Gatwick. Will they still be served? And, if so, at the same or lower frequency? Or would Wizz Air switch them to Gatwick and then launch a raft of new routes from Luton instead?

Six routes are not served from Luton – Alghero, Kutaisi, Nis, Odesa, Szczecin, Yerevan – although Kutaisi and Szczecin were served previously. All six airports are in the ULCC’s network, so the continued importance of ‘connecting the dots’, which is a simpler and cheaper way of expanding.

See below for a list of which routes are and aren’t bookable from Luton.

RoutingAlready served by Wizz Air from Luton?
Gran CanariaYes
Satu MareYes
Szczytno (Olsztyn-Mazury)Yes
Tel AvivYes
Tirgu MuresYes

Four routes unserved from London

Kutaisi, Nis, Odesa, and Yerevan are all unserved from London. Yerevan is a decent-sized market before demand stimulation, with booking data obtained from OAG Traffic Analyzer showing that around 25,000 flew indirectly in 2019. At some 2,249 miles, it would be a long route from Gatwick, but still shorter than its coming Cardiff to Sharm El Sheikh (2,534 miles). It’d also take up much of an aircraft’s time, although four sectors could still be had in one day.

Nis, meanwhile, has been after London for years, while Odesa had nearly 19,000 passengers indirectly. Another Ukraine destination, Kharkiv, was served by Wizz Air from Luton between November 2018 and February 2019. According to the UK’s CAA, it did poorly, achieving a seat load factor (SLF) of just 49%, based on 11,904 seats and 5,869 passengers.

Wizz Air UK A320
While 80% of these 29 routes are bookable from Luton, where this image was taken, Gatwick has a very different picture. Nearly seven in ten routes would be new to Gatwick’s route map this year. Indeed, other airlines have scheduled to serve nine of these 29 routes, down from 10 in 2019. The addition was Alghero, which TUI served for years, is no more. Wizz Air might launch it now. Photo: Mike Burdett via Wikimedia.

Kutaisi serves the whole country

Kutaisi-Luton operated between June 2017 and March 2020 with an estimated SLF of 81% in 2019. The link with Kutaisi was not to serve the city area itself, which is small, but instead to serve the whole country, despite Tbilisi being some 155 miles away. The Chief Business Development Officer at the United Airports of Georgia has previously said that 80% of Kutaisi passengers continue to Tbilisi.

Georgian Airways served Tbilisi-Gatwick non-stop between 2017 and 2020. But despite the non-stop, it was a very unserved market, with over 35,000 flying indirectly to London in 2019. There’s currently no sign of Georgian Airways returning to London, so the further explanation for this possible route with Wizz Air.