I have been fascinated with Wizzair for over a decade. They have been aiming for dominance of European skies from their Hungarian base. Celebrating their 14th birthday this month, they now operate 80 aircraft from 19 bases in ten countries across Central and Eastern Europe flying to a massive 140 cities in 50 countries. They have now flown 100 million people.
For most of its history, Wizzair reportedly lost money. So much so that in 2009, they were voted by Bookmaker Paddy Power as the next airline likely to go bust. Interesting that both airlines Wizz were most focussed on competing with Malév, (then Hungary’s flag carrier) and the Slovakian carrier SkyEurope were the ones that collapsed. SkyEurope went belly up in 2009 and Malév in 2012. Wizzair which has been highly profitable ever since. Last year’s revenues topped $US1.5 billion dollars and in 2015, their shares debuted on the London Stock Exchange. Wizzair, then appear to be here to stay.
They have, over the last two years been engaged in a very competitive war with Ryanair. After Malév ‘s collapse, Ryanair opened a Budapest base and heavily marketed themselves in the Hungarian market. The Irish carrier also alleged that Wizz Air’s ownership structure violated European Union rules as they were owned by a trust based in Malta. This claim was, of course, swiftly denied by Wizz!
Wizz have a cost structure similar to Ryanair’s but with reportedly lower labour costs. In fact, Wizzair have lower costs than easyJet, Vueling and Norwegian Air Shuttle.
I have not flown them yet, although I have been in and out of Hungary a few times and seen their planes, check in areas and advertisements. My aim is to try them and Norwegian in the next year.
Skytrax Star Rating: Air Berlin, EasyJet: Norwegian: Ryanair, Vueling, Wizz are all three-star airlines
Skytrax Customers Rating: Air Berlin: 6/10 EasyJet: 6/10 Norwegian: 7/10, Ryanair: 6/10 Vueling: 4/10 Wizz: 5/10
Airline Ratings Safety: Air Berlin: 7/7. EasyJet: Rating Pending! Norwegian: 5/7, Ryanair: 5/7, Vueling: 7/7. Wizz: 6/7
My rating: Air Berlin: 60% EasyJet: 74% Ryanair: 59% Vueling 59.5%
Like many Low-Cost Carriers, it would seem that when things work, you are fine but when things go wrong, you face little help or support from the airline. It should be noted that Wizz Air offered free tickets to Belgrade and Tuzla for aid organisations and their workers during the recent floods.
Wizz offers three types of fares with the following inclusions:
- Basic- Small cabin bag
- Wizz Go-large cabin bag, free standard seat selection, 23kg free check in luggage
- Wizz Plus- large cabin bag, free seat selection of any seat, 32kg free check in luggage
Their luggage policy stands them out from many competitors. Wizz allows you to take a small piece on board free of charge on all fares. Larger items incur a fee but no weight limit. Have a look at the WizzTV cabin bag explanation video:
Finally, here is a Wizz 321 flying over beautiful Budapest on year ago! Stunning: