Budget airline Wizz Air saw demand jump more than sixfold last month; thanks to much weaker travel rules imposed by European governments.
Around 3.6 million people booked flights with the Hungarian air carrier in Apri;, compared to 564,600 in the same period the previous year. And just 78,400 in April 2020 during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
The firm’s seat capacity also skyrocketed 355.7 per cent to around 4.3 million, meaning its load factor; the proportion of seats filled by passengers – surged from 59.2% in April 2021 to 83.4% last month.
The number of passengers who have flown with the airline in the past 12 months has more than doubled year-on-year; to 38 million.
As well as benefiting from the loosening of international travel restrictions, the company took the opportunity to significantly expand its operations across Europe.
The business additionally expanded its existing routes to Romanian and Polish cities; such as Timisoara, Wroclaw and Bacau. It is acquiring two daily slot pairs from Spanish low-cost airline Vueling at London Luton Airport.
More European routes
More routes originating from major European capitals are coming up; including Rome, the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, Tirana in Albania, and Vilnius in Lithuania.
Under chief executive Joszef Varadi, Wizz Air has outlined a goal to boost its annual passenger numbers to 170 million and fleet to 500 aircraft within the next decade.
Yet while it is successfully expanding its customer reach, the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to massive financial harm for the FTSE 250 company and the wider airline industry.
Wizz Air says it is anticipating a net loss of between €632 million and €652 million for the 2022 financial year.
Aside from temporary bans on travelling overseas in some countries, losses have been compounded by strict quarantine and vaccination requirements; and people being far more reluctant to book flights due to uncertainty over future travel rules.
Demand for air travel is also hurt over the December to January period by Omicron variant of Covid-19, leading to international restrictions.
However, the group says that it was predicting a ‘busy summer flying program; with the number of available seat kilometers between July and September forecast 40 per cent ahead of 2019 levels.