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Interfax: CEE carrier Wizz Air expects dynamic growth in Poland, Hungary as Sky Europe seen withdrawing

Interfax: CEE carrier Wizz Air expects dynamic growth in Poland, Hungary as Sky Europe seen withdrawing

09.07.2007 15:16

BUDAPEST. JULY 9. INTERFAX C.NTRAL EUROPE - Central and Eastern European (CEE) low-cost airline Wizz Air sees dynamic growth in Poland and Hungary as one of its main competitors, Sky Europe, is likely to withdraw from these countries, Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi told reporters Monday. Wizz Air is still kicking around the idea of holding an initial public offering (IPO), but has made no firm decision yet, added Jozsef Varadi.

"Wizz Air's presence will change in Hungary and Poland, as Sky Europe will soon withdraw from Budapest and Poland," Jozsef Varadi said. "The role of Wizz Air will grow drastically."

Although Sky Europe, based in Slovakia, has not officially announced any plans to cancel its operations in these two countries, Varadi said the airline's winter schedule is suspiciously absent, whereas usually at least four months are needed to fill up these flights.

Varadi also said that the strategic position of Hungary's national airliner Malev, which is massively loss-making, has also weakened, as passengers from Eastern Europe can now reach Western Europe directly, while the strength of Malev was to collect passengers from the East and fly them to Western Europe. Malev was recently acquired by the Russian-backed AirBridge consortium.

The CEO also mentioned that Wizz Air is in talks with representatives of Budapest Airport (BA) and that they expect the new management of BA to lower airport fees. BA was recently acquired by a consortium led by Germany's Hochtief AirPort.

Based on these expectations, Wizz Air has already announced changes in its 2007/08 winter schedule, including a new flight from Budapest to Milan to be launched from October. In addition, the airline will also increase the number of flights from Budapest to Rome, Paris, Eindhoven and London, which will increase Hungarian capacities by around 20%.

Wizz Air intends to open its seventh base overall in January 2008, in Poland's Poznan, while it plans to increase the number of airplanes from the current 16 to 21 in 2008, and further to 53 by 2012.

Wizz Air flew 3.1 million passengers in the 2006 financial year ended in March 31 and expects to fly 4.6 million passengers in the 2007 financial year.

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