Wizz Air to become biggest airline at Luton this summer

Wizz Air will have more airline seats available to passengers travelling from Luton Airport this summer than any other airline, the company has said.

The announcement comes as the Hungary-based budget airline saw passenger numbers jump 16.7% in the year to March 31.

Bosses revealed the boost helped revenues rise 19.6% to 2.3 billion euros (£2 billion) with pre-tax profits up 4.5% to 300 million euros during the period.

However, investors appeared unimpressed with how much profit the company said it expected to make next year.

The details led to shares falling 2.8% to 3,130p in early trading Friday morning.

Chief executive Jozsef Varadi said the airline is benefiting from the struggles facing other airlines in Europe.

He explained: “We remain very optimistic for the current financial year.

“Higher fuel prices are supporting a stronger fare environment and we expect these macro conditions to provide Wizz Air with market share opportunities as weaker carriers withdraw unprofitable capacity.”

The decision to take on easyJet on its own turf, the UK budget airline’s head office is at Luton Airport, is “a clear statement of our ambitions”, the company said.

This summer, Wizz Air will add two new planes to its UK fleet, bringing the total to 11.

The company, which is primarily focused on central and eastern Europe, added that passengers are now spending 22.2 euros on average on extra products like food and drink on its flights, up 1% on a year ago.

Holidaymakers are also spending 5.3 euros each on baggage fees, the company revealed.

Wizz Air has outperformed the airline market in a difficult year that has seen FlyBMI and German business Germania both go bust in the last month.

Monarch Airlines, Primera, Air Berlin and Cobalt have also collapsed, whilst Flybe has been bought by a Virgin consortium and Thomas Cook is trying to sell its airline business.

Travel firms have also revealed that the ongoing political uncertainty around Brexit has put off families from booking holidays.

Thomas Cook and TUI have both issued profit warnings this year, and analysts at Citigroup have called the former’s shares “worthless”.

By comparison, Wizz Air said it has added 125 new routes and spent 30 million euros on a state-of-the-art pilot and cabin crew training centre in Budapest and took delivery of two new A321 airbus planes.

However, net profit guidance, the company’s preferred measure, is expected to be between 320 million and 350 million euros next year, which is lower than analysts had been hoping, and relies heavily on outside factors beyond Wizz Air’s control, including potential airport delays and weather issues.

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