Ultra-low-cost airline Wizz Air said it has done better than expected so far this year and expects demand to improve significantly this summer, despite the war in Ukraine affecting its key network in Europe from the east.
The London-listed Hungarian carrier said it expects an operating loss of around £158-175m in the final quarter of its financial year, slightly above previous guidance.
It has been forced to suspend flights to and from Ukraine, Russia and Moldova since its neighboring state was invaded by Vladimir Putin, but now expects to fly more than in 2019 before the pandemic strikes.
There was controversy earlier this month when he promised 100,000 free seats to Ukrainian refugees fleeing through Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, but charged them for checked baggage.
Wizz Air has also fiercely resisted attempts by workers to unionize, rejecting calls from Italian unions to agree a contract of employment. One of Denmark’s biggest pension funds sold its shares in the airline over what it said were human and labor rights abuses.
Between April and June, Wizz plans to cover 30% more available seat kilometers than in 2019, and 40% more between July and September.
Jozsef Varadi, the airline’s chief executive, said the Covid-19 Omicron variant “has been shown to be mild in nature, which has helped ease government travel restrictions across the majority of our network.”
“Unfortunately, the war in Ukraine has weighed on demand for air transport and destabilized commodity prices around the world,” he added. “Despite these developments, we are starting to see the recovery taking shape.”
The airline has also reduced its exposure to oil price volatility by hedging for a 36% hedge of expected fuel volume usage from April to August this year.
The carrier has opened a fourth UK base in Cardiff and is continuing its expansion at its London Luton hub where it recently acquired two additional pairs of daily slots. It will operate 75 routes from Luton this summer and remains the airport’s largest carrier in terms of seats.
Reuters and PA contributed to this report
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This notice was published: 2022-04-14 15:27:49