Friday, 8 May 2020

Wizz Air boss claims young are keen to fly again as the airline helps people breakout of lockdown

Wizz Air at Luton  Photo Luton Airport / Wizz Air
The Hungarian airline that was partly bailed out by the UK government is looking to continue to increase its flight schedules regardless of travel bans and lockdowns. 

Wizz Air founder József Váradi confirmed the airline was selling around 75% of seats on its flights regardless of social distancing advice from various governments and health organizations.  "One of the trends we are sensing is young people want to be back in the air quite quickly," he told the BBC

In the interview, Váradi indicated that some people are now flying to visit relatives, to second homes or because "they just want to break out of the current lockdown" and he's happy for that to continue.

He also told how he was frustrated with the general lack of uniformity with regulations to the many destinations it flies to. "It's a bit of a zoo," he bemoaned, "no two countries" are applying the same standards, or interpreting them in the same way. Váradi wants balance globally, between restrictions to stop the spread of the virus and the need to restart business: "Countries and people cannot be locked down forever."

Despite his airline shedding more than 1000 positions from its 5000 strong workforce, Váradi still believes his airline will grow,  current plans are to increase its fleet size by 121 to 135 aircraft by the autumn of 2021.  It will also add flights to Portugal, Greece and Morocco from its Luton base this summer. 

The airline has also been earning an income during the downturn in regular business by chartering its aircraft to various governments at much higher rates than normal to operate a number of repatriation flights. It has also operated a string of services to fly low-waged Hungarian and Romanian fruit-pickers to Germany and the UK.  

Váradi also had a bleak warning for his rivals,  saying "a large number" of carriers will go bankrupt, "If you are not a national carrier bailed out by the government or you are not a self-sufficient cash-rich airline, then your days are over, the clock is ticking."

From the start of May,  the airline has required passengers to wear a face mask - this is compulsory from now on, suggests passengers follow the general guidelines about social distancing (minimum 1.5 meters) whenever possible at the airport, on the way towards the aircraft and onboard. It also offers free sanitizing wipes and has removed all magazines and menus from the seat pockets. The crew also wear masks and the aircraft is disinfected each evening.

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