Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Wizz Air axes routes between Romania and Great Britain, Switzerland and The Netherlands

Photo Wizz Air

Wizz Air, confirmed this week that has suspended its routes between Romania and Great Britain, Switzerland and The Netherlands starting from the 5 April until the 18 April. The measure is due to new travel restrictions imposed by Romanian authorities on all flights from Romania to these countries in the efforts to limit the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. As a result of the restrictions from Romania and all over Europe, the routes to Belgium, Austria, Spain, France and Germany remain suspended until the 30 April.

Like many other airlines,  Wizz Air has been operating some special flights, repatriating citizens and transporting medical equipment for east European governments. However,  these flights have been paid for by the respective governments, as the airlines Chief Executive Officer Jozsef Varadi told news agency Reuters  “We try to do the right thing. -Yes, governments and other institutions pay for the flights, but this is not the time to make a profit ... The most important issue here is to help.”

The carrier has performed two charter repatriation services from the USA to Budapest that were paid for by the Hungarian Government, which were advertised on its Los Angeles consulate facebook page at a one-way ticket price of $880. 

“U.S. authorities gave us the green light to operate on the basis that we do not charge passengers,” she said. “Otherwise we would not get permits. And this is what we strictly kept to.” a spokesperson from the airline said.  However, the government confirmed passengers did eventually pay for the flight.  “The Hungarian citizens paid below-market prices through the foreign missions, with the Hungarian state paying for the rest. The repatriating flights were a Hungarian government mission, therefore the passengers had no payment obligation to Wizz Air,” the Foreign Ministery said.

Wizz has also operated flights for other governments in the region, including those of Slovenia and Macedonia. The airline has refused to disclose how much it has been charging governments for these flights. 

The first flight for the Macedonian Government was operated from Skopje to Berlin Schoenefeld, landing at the destination at 13:30 local time. From there it took off to Cologne and then returned to Skopje where it landed at 18:00 local time. Over 90 Macedonian passengers were on the flight to Skopje, bringing the total number of Macedonian citizens helped by Wizz Air over the last few weeks to over 460 after two other rescue flights were operated on the 27 of March, getting home Macedonians from Croatia and Malta. 

Wizzair aircraft with a shipment of medical and protective gear from China, which will be used to help fight the spread of the coronavirus, arrives at Budapest Airport, Hungary, April 4, 2020. KKM/Handout via REUTERS 

Photo Wizz Air

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