Budget airline Wizz Air boosts profits prior to virus uncertainty

Budget airline Wizz Air has reported a jump in profits for the past year, but warned that it could not provide trading guidance for the current period due to uncertainty caused by coronavirus.

The Hungary-based business saw underlying profits increase by 16% to 345 million euro (£307 million) in the year to March 31 as passenger levels increased.

It said it carried 40 million passengers during the year, representing a 15.8% increase against the previous year.

However, Wizz Air said it had felt the impact of coronavirus from March and therefore reduced its staff numbers by 19% in response to travel restrictions and flight cancellations.

The company said it also put cost mitigation measures in place quickly, which involved significant spending reductions and low capital expenditure.

In April, the carrier raised £300 million through the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) to bolster its finances.

Last month, Wizz Air announced the launch of six new routes serving Luton Airport to fly customers to Portugal from this month and Greece from July.

Jozsef Varadi, Wizz Air’s chief executive officer, said its market position and disciplined attitude to costs mean it “will emerge from this crisis as an even more formidable business”.

He added: “We have taken various initiatives during the Covid-19 pandemic to safeguard the company’s cost position and excellent balance sheet with 1.5 billion euros of cash, one of the strongest in the airline industry.

“We remain focused on best servicing our markets, while protecting the health of customers and employees.

“Our new health and safety protocol is designed to ensure that our customers and crew can fly safely during this unprecedented time for the global aviation industry.”