Wizz Air exceeds expectations despite the war between Omicron and Ukraine

Ultra-low-cost carrier 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 Eastern European network.

The London-listed Hungarian airline said it expects an operating loss of around £158 million to £175 million in the final quarter of its fiscal year, slightly above previous forecasts.

It has been forced to suspend flights to and from Ukraine, Russia and Moldova since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of its neighboring state, but now expects to fly more than it did in 2019 before the pandemic hit.

There was controversy earlier this month when he promised 100,000 free seats to Ukrainian refugees escaping through Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, but charged them for checked baggage.

Wizz Air has also fiercely resisted attempts to organize workers, rejecting calls from unions in Italy to agree a labor contract. One of Denmark’s largest pension funds sold its shares in the airline over what it called labor and human rights abuses.

Between April and June, Wizz expects to fly 30% more available seats per kilometer than in 2019, and 40% more between July and September.

Jozsef Varadi, the airline’s chief executive officer, said the Covid-19 Omicron variant “proved to be of a benign nature, helping to relax government travel restrictions on most of our network.”

“Sadly, the war in Ukraine has dented demand for air travel and destabilized commodity prices around the world,” he added. “Despite these developments, we are beginning to see the recovery take shape.”

The airline has also reduced its exposure to oil price volatility by hedging 36 percent of planned fuel volume usage from April to August this year.

The airline has opened a fourth UK base in Cardiff and is still expanding at its London Luton hub, where it recently acquired an additional two pairs of daily slots. It will operate 75 routes from Luton this summer and remains the largest airline at the airport by seats.

Reuters and PA contributed to this report

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