Ryanair & Wizz Air: first mover advantage in European aviation's reset

Premium Analysis

Ryanair and Wizz Air are the first leading European airline groups to report financial results for the first COVID quarter. As expected, both suffered a dramatic collapse in traffic and heavy losses in the April to June 2020 period. More importantly, both increased their cash balances and have significant liquidity cushions.

After grounding most of their aircraft in the depths of the COVID-19 crisis, Ryanair and Wizz Air are leading the return of capacity. Both view this uncertain and risky period as an opportunity to grow market share, whereas competitors remain more circumspect.

Both airlines are backed by strong balance sheets, low costs (they are, after all, Europe's two leading ultra-LCCs), and large orders of new generation aircraft. Crucially, both are also used to moving quickly in and out of markets according to demand and route profitability.

The crisis has even opened up enough space for both of them in Central Europe, where they have had the most overlap in the past. European aviation has hit the reset button, and Ryanair and Wizz Air are now seeking the first mover advantage.

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