European (and now Middle Eastern) budget airline Wizz Air’s expansion has been impressive over the last decade. Even in the past year, when the aviation market was at its worst, the airline somehow managed to still announce the launch of new bases in Lviv (Ukraine), Saint Petersburg (Russia), and Bacău (Romania) while at the same time expanding operations at existing bases. Speaking with the airline’s Chief Operations Officer (COO), it looks like the airline is planning to establish more bases in the future.
“There will absolutely be new bases”
During Simple Flying’s July 15th webinar with Wizz Air COO George Michalopolous, the airline executive was asked if Wizz had a target number of bases in the long term and if it had an ultimate target or limit before shifting to consolidation. To this inquiry, Michalopolous said:
“We have a large aircraft order. So we’re going to need to grow. Yes, there are going to be two parts to this. There’s a densification of existing bases. But you know, our large aircraft order will also mean that we’re growing, we are growing new bases. I don’t have any specific number to share today, but yes, there will absolutely be new bases.”
What is an airport base?
For those unfamiliar with the term, CAPA defines a base (or airport base in this specific context) as to where an airline permanently bases aircraft and crew and from where it operates routes, adding:
“Both fleet and personnel return to the base at the end of the day. The aircraft based at the airport do not necessarily always have to be the same tail numbers, but the airline will typically keep a consistent complement of aircraft at a base.”
In this kind of setup, flight attendants and pilots come from the area surrounding the base and report to work from their “home address.” This concept is opposite to an airline’s outstation, where an airport is merely a destination from which to deliver and pick up passengers. In this situation, the aircraft will only spend time at the airport conducting its turnaround rather than parking there for downtime/short-term storage or maintenance.
While the word “base” can be used to define large, vast facilities (i.e., military bases), reality can be different for airlines – especially low-cost carriers. In fact, it can actually be as simple as a single aircraft and a handful of crew forming a new base, which you will see in the next section.
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Wizz Air’s recent base launches and openings
In case we haven’t said the word ‘base’ nearly enough, here is a list of Wizz Air’s recent base launches, according to its website’s press releases:
- July 1st, 2021: The airline opens its Rome Fiumicino base with four aircraft.
- June 15th, 2021: Wizz announces its sixth Italian base, located in Naples
- March 4th, 2021: Two aircraft form a new Italian base in Palermo (Italy)
- February 21st, 2021: Wizz announces a new seasonal base in Bourgas (Bulgaria)
- February 3rd, 2021: A new base with a single A320 is announced in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
- October 29th, 2020: The airline opens its Bacău base in Romania
- October 22nd, 2020: Wizz bases a single A321 in Bari (Italy) to make it another Italian base.
We should note that the carrier had planned to open its new Wizz Air UK base in Cardiff. However, this has been postponed until 2022.
With all of the above information in mind, we can be fairly certain that more Wizz Air announcements are on the way regarding this type of expansion- especially as it continues to take delivery of more aircraft.
What do you think of establishing more and more bases? Is it a good strategy? Let us know in the comments.