Wizz Air says Omicron uncertainty to hit demand in Q4

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LONDON, Jan 26 (Reuters) – Hungary-based carrier Wizz Air posted a third-quarter operating loss of 213.6 million euros and said the fourth quarter loss was likely to be slightly higher than that, before an expected improvement in spring.

Wizz said the emergence of the Omicron variant had hit demand in the latter part of the third quarter, and it expected to be impacted by ongoing travel uncertainty in January, February and part of March.

Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi told Reuters that the airline had seen a marked improvement in demand in Britain after the government announced a relaxation of coronavirus testing rules, and he expected the UK market to help lead the recovery in the summer.

The fast growing airline has used the pandemic to cut costs and acquire additional landing slots, to position itself to capitalise on an expected recovery this summer. It had liquidity of 1.4 billion euros at the end of December.

Varadi said it planned to operate 50% more capacity in August and September than in the summer of 2019 before the pandemic.

“We have been investing into our network, our markets, into the fleet and people to make sure that not only are we recovering from the COVID situation, but also we are taking advantage by growing the business once the market resumes,” he said.

“We are expecting a very strong recovery path of demand in the next few months.”

Adding a note of caution, he said input costs from fuel, wages and regulatory changes were rising, pushing fare prices up in the short term.

Photo – EPA-EFE/TOMS KALNINS

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