Strong start to 2014 for Wizz Air in the former Yugoslavia
Covering five markets in the former Yugoslavia, Wizz Air has established itself as the leading low cost airline in the region. At the same time, the airline has seen strong passenger growth in several EX-YU countries so far this year. For another month, Wizz Air’s largest base in the former Yugoslavia will be Belgrade. As EX-YU Aviation News exclusively learns, despite the increased competition the carrier is facing in the country, its passenger numbers have surged so far this year. In the first two months of 2014, Wizz Air welcomed just over 59.000 passengers on its flights to and from the Serbian capital, or an increase of 24%. This summer season the airline will resume seasonal flights to Sandefjrod in Norway and will launch services to Larnaca in Cyprus. However, the no frills airline will suspend its seasonal flights to Rhodes and Corfu, leaving it with twelve destinations from Belgrade this summer.
On the other hand, Wizz Air launched flights from Gothenburg, Malmo and Basel to Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina last summer, making it the only scheduled airline offering services to the city. The gamble payed off with over 62.000 passengers handled on these flights in 2013. The airline continues to post healthy figures with some 8.000 passengers using Wizz Air’s services in and out of Tuzla this January, up 21% on the month before. The low cost airline is considering launching flights from Dortmund and Eindhoven to the Bosnian city in the near future. It estimates to carry 120.000 passengers to and from Tuzla this year.
In addition, Wizz Air has become Macedonia’s busiest airline, carrying 380.000 passengers on flights to and from Skopje in 2013, an increase of 241% on the year before. Early next month, Wizz Air will base a second aircraft in Skopje and launch flights to four new destinations - Beauvais, Hahn, Cologne and Charleroi. It will bring the total number of destinations served from the Macedonian capital to fourteen, making it its largest base in the former Yugoslavia. The low cost airline now has 38.6% of the market share in Skopje, which is set to skyrocket this summer.
The low cost airline has also entered the Slovenian market and was a key driver of Ljubljana Airport’s passenger growth last year. In less than a year, Wizz Air has become Ljubljana’s third busiest airline with some 50.000 passengers carried to and from the airport on only two destinations – Charleroi and London Luton. Ljubljana Airport is in the final stages of talks with the low cost airline to launch flights from Scandinavia and Northern Germany to the Slovenian capital towards the end of 2014.
Wizz Air’s presence in Croatia is relatively muted with seasonal flights to Split. The airline is yet to tap into the Montenegrin and Kosovan markets. However, unlike other larger European low cost airlines, Wizz Air has recognised the region’s potential and is on the lookout for further expansion.