Wizz Air will base four additional Airbus A321neo aircraft at London Gatwick as the low-cost competition heats up at London’s secondary airport. The airline made the announcement after it received 15 daily slot pairs at the facility from a former Gatwick heavyweight, Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Norwegian’s Boeing 737s and 787s used to be a common sight at London Gatwick Airport. However, since the almost collapse of the low-cost giant, the fleet’s presence at London’s secondary airport has been scarce, meaning that its slots haven’t been used. This wasn’t such a problem at the height of the pandemic when no slots were being used, but as the recovery progresses, they have now found a new owner.
Enter Wizz Air
Just over a year ago, in October 2020, Wizz Air launched a base at London Gatwick Airport, despite the ongoing pandemic. Fast forward to today, and there is still only one Airbus aircraft based at the airport, with the airline’s CEO previously revealing his displeasure that additional slots remained blocked. This was especially the case as they weren’t being used at the time.
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Things have now changed, though. Today, Wizz Air revealed that it had successfully acquired 15 pairs of daily slots from Norwegian Air Shuttle. The low-cost carrier told that its UK subsidiary would make the most of the slots, with the fleet base set to grow from one aircraft to five A321neos. The main brand, Wizz Air Hungary, will also use a handful of the slots for flights out of its Budapest base.
Alongside the announcement, the airline also called for the UK Government to bring back so-called “use it or lose it” rules on slots. The airline would like to use other airlines’ slots that have remained dormant throughout the crisis. Commenting on the move, Wizz Air’s CEO, József Váradi remarked,
“Acquiring airport slots at Gatwick Airport will enable us to enhance our presence and competitive position in the London market. We continue to develop our business in United Kingdom and remain committed to making air travel affordable for all. The 2022 season has the potential to be a tremendous opportunity for UK aviation to get back on its feet.“
More competition for British Airways?
The move will likely come as a bit of an additional headache for the UK flag carrier, British Airways. For years, the airline’s short-haul business from London Gatwick has lost money. All bar four of its routes were served by competitors, typically offering lower prices. This included easyJet, Ryanair, and Wizz Air.
In a bid to remain competitive, British Airways had revealed that it would be launching a new subsidiary out of London Gatwick. Known as BA Euroflyer, passengers should theoretically not tell the difference between it and British Airways. That is except for fares. On its own AOC, the airline will look to have cheaper running costs so that it can offer “fares competitive with those of Gatwick no-frills carriers.”
Are you excited to see Wizz Air receive more slots at London Gatwick Airport? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!