Wizz Air passenger numbers up 15% in 2011
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Ukraine: traffic recovery prompts Ryanair to join Wizz Air in LCC growth. Ukraine Int'l also expands
Two announcements by leading LCCs in quick succession may mark a significant development in Ukraine's aviation market. One came on 13-Mar-2016 from Wizz Air, the largest low cost airline in Eastern/Central Europe; the other on 15-Mar-2016 from Ryanair, the largest LCC (and largest airline) in all Europe.
Both expect opportunity in Ukraine's very low levels of air travel and low LCC seat share. Wizz Air, already Ukraine's leading low cost airline, will add four more new routes in summer 2017, to the four previously announced. Ryanair will enter Ukraine with 11 routes, adding competitive tension to the emerging low fares market there. The battle between the two for supremacy in Eastern/Central Europe opens up a new front.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's air traffic levels are enjoying a recovery from the slump of 2014 and 2015 caused by major geopolitical disruption and a severe recession. Passenger numbers jumped 21% in 2016.
The country's flag carrier and biggest airline, Ukraine International Airlines, has taken part in the traffic growth, but will need to ensure it can do this profitably after a period of losses. Risks remain, but the conditions are in place for further growth in Ukraine's air traffic.
Wizz Air: fastest growing top 20 European airline group keeps Ryanair at bay on E/C Europe-W Europe
Wizz Air's 2016 growth was the fastest among all of Europe's top 20 airline groups. Its passenger numbers increased by 19% to almost 23 million in calendar 2016, giving it an average growth rate of 22% pa over the past decade.
Although it is only Europe's 13th largest airline group overall and the number four LCC, Wizz Air is the biggest airline on routes between Eastern/Central Europe and Western Europe. Almost all of its routes are in this core market, and Wizz Air has managed to hold on to its number one spot in the face of strong competition from Ryanair, which is also growing rapidly in this market.
Wizz Air's fleet plan to 2024 is aimed at maintaining double digit growth rates, while also lowering unit costs by adding A321s and A321neos to its A320 equipment. Ten years ago Wizz Air carried only three million passengers, but it will almost certainly break into Europe's top 20 in 2017.