2022 a ‘transition year’, says budget airline Wizz Air

Wizz Air says it expects 2022 to be a transition year, letting airlines gradually recover from the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The London-listed airline said its recovery will be largely reliant on the rollout of vaccines across Europe.

But as the economy reopens, the company says it will be ready to take on its rivals in the sector.

“We will become an even more formidable company, that will continue to create shareholder value and top-of-the-class profitability,” the business said on Wednesday.

It came as the airline revealed the extent of the devastation caused by Covid-19 in the last year.

Wizz Air had made a pre-tax profit of 294.1 million euros (£254 million) a year earlier, but collapsed to a loss of 566.5 million euros (£489 million) in the 12 months to the end of March.

Number of passengers and revenue both fell by around three-quarters to 10.2 million and 739 million euros (£638 million) respectively.

The last year has been “unprecedented in the 17-year history of Wizz Air”, said chief executive Jozsef Varadi.

“The aviation industry was heavily impacted by Covid-19-related regulations, with passenger airlines around the world going into prolonged hibernation to survive whilst calling upon extensive financial support.”

Wizz Air added: “We expect 2022 to be a transition year where we will experience a slow but gradual recovery, mostly subject to the pace of vaccinations globally including in Europe.”

Airlines have faced a heavy burden during the pandemic, with restrictions on international travel imposed by governments around the world.

For large parts of the past year flying has been restricted to a few vital purposes, and often with requirements on arrivals to quarantine for days or weeks.

Airlines are still operating at heavily reduced capacity. Separately on Wednesday Ryanair reported it carried 1.8 million passengers in May.

This is higher than the approximately 70,000 it carried in the same period last year, but heavily down on May 2019 when more than 14 million passengers took one of its flights.

Mr Varadi said Wizz Air’s levels are also still low.

“We expect to fly around 30% of our capacity in the first quarter of (the 2022 financial year) and are resuming all cash contributing flying subject to government-imposed restrictions.

“Furthermore, unless we see an accelerated and permanent lifting of restrictions we expect a reported net loss during (the 2022 financial year). For (the 2023 financial year) we see a strong trading environment and we plan to operate our full capacity.”