LONDON – Hungarian airline Wizz Air has cancelled flights as a result of Britain’s new coronavirus lockdowns, with its chief executive forecasting January capacity will fall to 25% of year-earlier levels from the 35% it flew in December.
Earlier on Thursday, bigger competitor Ryanair slashed its annual traffic forecast by around 5 million passengers, also blaming UK lockdowns.
Wizz Chief Executive Jozsef Varadi said that, despite the bleak short-term outlook, Wizz’s longer term growth story remained intact, and it would bounce back if given the chance.
“I think if restrictions get removed by summer, I would say that summer 2021 would not be far away from summer 2019 from our perspective,” he said.
While there was limited visibility on bookings for the next three to five months, summer bookings were “very encouraging”, said Varadi.
Varadi also said in an interview that the withdrawal of voting rights from the majority of its shares in order to comply with EU ownership rules after Brexit was “sustainable”, although he expected the airline’s EU investor base to rise over time.
“Some of the investors who are international holders of stocks can reclassify their holdings by migrating from one investment vehicle to another … so I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of changes in the next few months,” he said.