Wizz Air To Open New Base Despite Current Industry Crisis

Budapest-based low-cost carrier Wizz Air announced yesterday that it would be opening a new base of operations in Lviv, Ukraine, on 1 July of this year. This will mark the second and newest base in Ukraine for the airline. Wizz Air’s existing Ukrainian base is located in the country’s largest city, Kiev.

Wizz Air
Despite a global health crisis, Wizz Air is continuing with multiple 2020 expansion plans. Photo: Getty Images

Operational details

According to a press release put out by the airline, there will be one Airbus A320 aircraft based at Danylo Halytskyi International Airport in Lviv. This will allow Wizz Air to start five new services out of Lviv.

“Wizz Air provides Ukrainian travellers new opportunities to travel to five different countries. Wizz Air’s operations continue to provide Ukrainians with affordable travel options while connecting Ukraine with the rest of Europe, contributing to the development of the local communities and economy, and stimulating the local job market in aviation and tourism sectors.” – Wizz Air

Wizz Air A321
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is set to launch sometime in Q3 of 2020. Photo: Getty Images

Routes from Lviv

According to World Airline News, the five flights from Lviv and their preliminary details are as follows:

Route Operating Days Starts Fares from*
Lviv – Billund (Denmark) Wednesday, Sunday 1 July 2020 EUR 19.99
Lviv – Lisbon (Portugal) Wednesday, Sunday 1 July 2020 EUR 39.99
Lviv – Tallinn (Estonia) Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday 2 July 2020 EUR 19.99
Lviv – Hamburg (Germany) Monday, Friday 3 July 2020 EUR 24.99
Lviv – Szczecin (Poland) Monday, Friday 3 July 2020 EUR 14.99

The airline also announced two new routes from Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv. These new flights will head from Kharkiv to Tallinn and Berlin, beginning July 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

Will Europe be ready?

If the routes were to launch today, there would be no way they would be profitable with the levels of flight restrictions we are seeing across the continent. However, many countries have been reporting recently that they believe they have passed the peaks of their respective outbreaks.

Therefore, with two full months between now and the opening of this new base, Wizz Air might just be able to pull it off. However, even if travel restrictions ease, it’s difficult to know how quickly air travel will rebound and get back to pre-corona levels.

As for steps the airline is taking, it says it has recently announced several additional measures to support physical distancing during boarding and enhanced cleanliness on board. They include:

  • Asking passengers to handle bookings online where possible, including online check-in, baggage drop-off
  • Encouraging contactless payment during onboard purchases
  • Making it mandatory for crew and passengers to wear masks
  • Thoroughly cleaning aircraft several times a day and disinfecting them overnight
  • The distribution of sanitizing pads by the crew to passengers at boarding
  • Finally, it will observe seat distancing for passengers on flights where the load factor allows

It’s interesting that the airline has added the caveat “where the load factor allows”, which seems to lessen how seriously they are taking the situation when faced with potentially more passengers and revenue. However, the mandatory mask policy should help greatly with this.

Wizz Air logo
Lviv is Wizz Air’s second base in Ukraine. Photo: Getty Images

Conclusion

In a statement to the press, George Michalopoulos, Chief Commercial Officer at Wizz Air said, “We are pleased to announce the expansion of our Ukrainian route network while at the same time implementing enhanced health measures. Today marks a great milestone in the history of WIZZ operations in Ukraine as we announce the opening of a base in Lviv with five new routes starting from July…This investment underlines our long term commitment to the country”.

It will indeed be interesting to see how this expansion works out on the heels of the current crisis. From what other airlines are estimating, it doesn’t seem like a profitable decision…at least not this year.

Do you think Wizz Air is overly optimistic? Or will it find short-term success with the establishment of this new base? Let us know your opinion in the comments.

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