Wizz Air reports a huge rise in passenger numbers

Low-cost European airline Wizz Air saw a more than 500% increase in the number of passengers carried in April as the recovery in the travel sector picked up pace.

The Hungarian airline, which is listed in London, said it carried 3.6 million passengers last month, up 542% on the 564,634 who flew with the group a year ago when the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions hammered demand.

Wizz Air recently bought extra slots at Luton Airport from Vueling, boosting services on existing routes to Romania and Poland and adding another 167,000 seats.

It said it now has more than 5.6 million seats available on flights for the summer season, with new routes across its network from Italy, the UK, Romania, Poland, Lithuania and Bosnia and Hercegovina to destinations across Europe.

New routes offer destinations in Greece, Germany, Denmark and Croatia.

It also last month launched a new base at Cardiff Airport with new routes to Spain, Portugal, Cyprus and Egypt.

The investment from the airline at the Rhoose-based airport has created 40 cabin and pilot-related jobs and a further 250-plus in its associated supply chain.

The airline has put on sale from Cardiff just over 200,000 seats for its inaugural summer season with the airport hopeful of achieving around 75% capacity.

Asked recently if there was potential to expand in the future at Cardiff chief executive of Wizz Air UK, Marion Geoffroy said: “When we open a base we believe it is a permanent one which is going to grow as well. From Cardiff it is a full leisure type of traffic today serving places such as Greece, Egypt, Spain and the Canary Islands.

“We have also designed a winter network and a commercial plan to some winter sun destinations. As there is more maturity in this market, we don’t exclude starting at some point some central and eastern European routes as we believe demand is there and awareness too.

“So, we have started with what we believe is the right product for the right season and we will of course keep improving the product and diversifying as we believe there is the right level of demand within the Cardiff catchment area.”

As well as Cardiff, London Luton and Gatwick, Wizz Air also has a UK base at Doncaster Sheffield airport. It also operates flights out of other airports including Bristol and Liverpool.

The update comes after rivals easyJet and British Airways were hampered over the Easter getaway by a raft of flight cancellations, which was blamed on coronavirus-related staff absences and delays in processing security checks for new airline crew.

But, despite the disruption, Luton-based easyJet said its summer flight bookings were exceeding pre-pandemic levels.