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- Wizz Air Hungary Airlines Ltd.
BUD International Airport Building 221
- Main hub
- Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport
- Business model
- Low Cost Carrier
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- Part of Wizz Air Group
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Established in May-2004, Wizz Air is a low-cost carrier headquartered in Budapest Airport, with secondary hubs at Gdańsk, Katowice and Belgrade as well as bases in 18 other airports across Europe. Wizz Air operates on over 380 routes across Europe, using predominantly secondary airports, and is continuously looking at opportunities to expand its network of destinations and provide low-cost air transport to and from Central and Eastern Europe.
Location of Wizz Air main hub (Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport)
Wizz Air Holdings Plc share price
LCCs will continue to evolve into hybrids of the original core model. CAPA and OAG consider Wizz Air fits the LCC profile and it is included in our reporting on this basis. Please note: when reporting for an airline is changed from or to LCC the historical data is not affected and it can lead to a distortion in the current reported data. Contact us if you have any queries.
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O'Leary: "Ryanair in robust good shape". Europe's highest margin airline despite revenue seasonality
Ryanair is on course to record a positive net income in both of its winter quarters for only the second time in eight years, consolidating last year's achievement. Its 3Q2016 net income more than doubled and it has yet again almost certainly closed calendar 2015 as Europe's most profitable airline by operating margin (even before many airlines report their results).
Since embarking on its programme to improve its product, network and customer service two years ago, Ryanair has achieved impressive results. Load factor has leapt forward, driving up unit revenue, while unit cost has remained under control. Interestingly, however, unit revenue growth has been highest in the already strong summer quarters. Although Ryanair is now achieving year round profitability, the seasonal variation in its revenues is even more pronounced than before.
FY2016 could be Ryanair's most profitable year in eleven years, and it also looks set to become Europe's largest airline group by passenger numbers in the next twelve months. As Michael O'Leary said of the airline that he has led for 22 years, "the business is in robust good shape".
Wizz Air's trading update for 3Q2016 paints a picture of an airline enjoying robust health. The number one airline between Central/Eastern Europe and Western Europe is growing rapidly, increasing its profit margins, raising its FY2016 profit target, and generating cash.
Moreover, Wizz Air may now be Europe's lowest cost airline, defined by its CASK over 12 months, although a lack of comparable data from current CASK king Ryanair means it's not currently possible to confirm this. Falling fuel prices (and its lower levels of fuel hedging) have helped Wizz Air's cost position, but it has shown consistent ex fuel cost control for many years.
Wizz Air's first two Airbus A321ceo aircraft joined its previously all-A320 fleet during the quarter, which also witnessed shareholder approval of its A321neo order. It will add 97 aircraft over the nine years from the end of FY2015 and the combination of larger aircraft with newer technology should help to take unit costs even lower. This will be crucial in its ongoing competition with Ryanair, the biggest airline in Europe and second biggest in Wizz Air's markets.
Budapest Ferenc Liszt Airport is Hungary’s largest international airport and, after Prague, the second biggest airport in the countries that joined the European Union in 2004. It is also the largest airport to have been privatised in Central and Eastern Europe.
It has been involved in constant skirmishing with neighbouring airports in Central Europe over a period of many years, as they attempt to establish themselves as the pre-eminent gateways to the region, and as collection and distribution hubs. Those other airports comprise Vienna and Prague, both of which lie north of Budapest, possibly Warsaw, and to a lesser degree Belgrade to the south, which although growing rapidly is still some way behind the others. (Bratislava Airport in Slovakia is excluded only because 95% of its passenger capacity is on low cost airlines).
This report looks at present and future growth trends at Budapest, at construction activities, ownership and profitability, and how it matches up to that competition now, across a range of metrics.
In late Oct-2015, ultra-LCC Wizz Air carried its 100 millionth passenger, just 12 years after its 2003 launch. In a further sign that it has joined the ranks of Europe's well established airlines, this year also saw its Feb-2015 floating of its shares on the London Stock Exchange. Wizz Air's 1H results for FY2016 confirmed the ongoing strength of its performance in its first full financial year after its share listing. Wizz Air's underlying net profit grew by 34% and its operating profit increased by 28%. Revenues grew by 15%, with passenger numbers up 20%, and the operating margin gained 2.6 ppts to reach 25.4%.
Wizz Air's success has been built organically and with a largely stable management team under founding CEO Josef Varadi. In this respect, the recent departure of long-serving CFO Mike Powell creates some uncertainty pending his replacement.
Nevertheless, as CAPA's analysis of Wizz Air's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats highlights, the airline is strongly placed to drive further profit growth, provided that it can continue to live with competition from Ryanair.
There are few countries where an outright charter carrier is the de facto national flag carrier.
But that is the case in Lithuania where a succession of failed scheduled carriers contrasts with a relatively new airline that sells seats exclusively to tour operators, in several countries across continents, is expanding almost exponentially, has one of the lowest CASKs in Europe, isn't highly leveraged, and is profitable.
That is far from the only surprising thing about Lithuania though, a country that is privatising its airports without really privatising them and which, is only just beginning to wake up to its tourism potential.
Eastern/Central Europe offers significant opportunities to LCCs. The region's faster-growing, lower-wage economies are relatively under-penetrated by the low cost model, and by air travel in general, compared with Western Europe. Furthermore, outside Russia, Turkey and Greece, the region contains very few sizeable legacy airlines and even fewer in strong financial health.
Wizz Air and Ryanair, already established as the two leading airlines in Eastern/Central Europe (ex Russia, Turkey and Greece), look well placed to build further here. According to OAG data for the week of 13-Jul-2015, number one ranked Wizz Air is growing seat capacity by 25% year on year, while number two Ryanair's seat numbers in Eastern/Central Europe are up 22% from their level a year ago.
Wizz Air's recent aircraft order demonstrates its resolve to stay in pole position. However, breaking the region into its component markets, Ryanair often comes out ahead of Wizz Air in countries where they both compete. Whichever one of Europe's two lowest unit cost airlines can win the fight for cost leadership will likely be the long term winner in Eastern/Central Europe.