Featured image: Julian Schöpfer/Airways

Wizz Air Celebrates in London Its 20th Anniversary

DALLAS — This month, Wizz Air (W6) marks its 20th anniversary. Airways was privileged to be part of the celebration, held at a modest reception in central London.

The event was attended by the presence of key figures such as Marion Geoffroy, the managing director of Wizz Air UK—established in 2017, and Andras Rado, head of communications, who have played a pivotal role in shaping the airline's success.

While there were no major announcements, the reception celebrated the airline’s passion for what it does and the pride it takes in connecting the world in a way that had not previously been seen in many of the markets it now calls home.

Wizz Air’s journey began in Hungary in 2004 when low-cost travel was a novel concept in many Eastern European countries. Recognizing a significant market gap, the low-cost carrier (LCC), inspired by the successful models of Ryanair (FR) and easyJet (U2) in Western Europe, launched its inaugural flight from Katowice Wojciech Korfanty Airport (KTW), Poland, to London Luton Airport (LTN) on June 19 of that year.

From that flight onwards, W6 built traction and market share in Europe, quickly growing to be a significant challenger to the continent's other low-cost contenders.

Photo: Ed Lee/Airways

Unprecedented LCC Network

As of now, they have managed to carry tens of millions of passengers at prices low enough to keep countries and communities connected and disrupt the market in three continents. With its combined fleet of over 200 aircraft and another 330 on order, W6's route network stretches from Iceland to the Maldives and Morocco to Kazakhstan. An expansive network such as W6's is almost unprecedented for a predominantly European LCC.

Predominantly European as they may be, W6 has expanded its reach beyond just Europe by some margin. The LCC announced a new base in Abu Dhabi in December 2019, which was a strategic move to take in the likes of Air Arabia, and since their launch, their fleet has grown from just two A321s to 12, connecting 31 destinations in 23 countries over three continents.

This is a new market they have carved out for themselves that has yet to be emulated by their European counterparts. Their entry into this market and the following successes have helped fuel their future regional ambitions.

Photo: Ed Lee/Airways

Wizz Air's Fleet Plans

Wizz Air’s sizable order for 47 Airbus A321XLRs was placed in 2021 as part of a larger order by parent company Indigo Partners for 255 units. Airbus advertised it as a “safe option” for airlines wishing to break into the long haul market through a combination of its 4,700 nautical mile/8,700-kilometer range and its commonality with the existing A320neo family. This factor led to the XLR becoming a bestseller and finding a home at W6.

Until recently, it was unknown how W6 might use the XLR; however, the airline announced in February 2023 that they intended to connect their UK hubs with their hub in Abu Dhabi. But more recently, in June 2024, they announced they now had India in their sights.

The LCC sees the XLR as an aircraft that can completely redefine its route network and introduce full medium- to long-haul travel in a way that hasn’t been fully seen before. One thing they were very clear on, however, is that their eyes are firmly looking east, and they do not plan to fly transatlantic routes.

Wizz Air has always intended to push the boundaries and provide for its customers. Over the past 20 years, its bullish attitude towards the markets it entered has paid dividends, making it almost a household name and giving the competition something to think about.

The future, too, has no shortage of W6’s pioneering attitude to low-cost air travel.

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