European airline Wizz Air expects Covid-19 travel restrictions to continue “to have an impact” on its recovery from the pandemic until spring.
The Hungary-based budget carrier, which made an offer to buy easyJet last year, posted an operating loss of 213.6 million euros for the last three months of 2021, despite Wizz’s capacity exceeding the 2019 levels during peak travel weeks during the quarter.
The airline carried 7.8 million passengers between October and December, compared to only 2.3 million in the same quarter of 2020, with revenues falling from 149.9 million euros to 408.4 million euros over the same period.
Wizz Air Group CEO Jozsef Varadi said: “The emergence of the Omicron variant and new travel restrictions impacted our commercial performance at the end of the quarter and we expect demand in January, February and part of March will be affected by the current travel uncertainty.
“Despite the short-term headwinds, we are cautiously optimistic of a continued recovery in the spring and near full utilization from the summer.”
Varadi added that the airline will continue to increase its fleet, which is expected to grow from 150 to 179 aircraft by the end of this year, as Wizz plans to continue growing its airport bases and routes.
Wizz has added three new bases in Italy in Rome Fiumicino, Naples and Venice, as well as expanding its operations to Gatwick in the UK.
“In December, we acquired a significant portfolio of slots at Gatwick Airport which will allow us to grow to a base of five aircraft and increase access to customers in the crucial London and South East market. England,” Varadi said.
“From spring, this will allow us to offer our customers competitive ticket prices to a host of known and emerging destinations on our new A321neo fleet.”
Wizz Air said it had “continued to drive demand with pricing”, as well as “staying nimble” by reducing capacity that was not making money.
The airline generated more revenue from ancillary services (246 million euros) than ticket prices (162.3 million euros) in the last quarter of 2021.