Gatwick Airport yesterday reopened its South Terminal for the first time since June 2020. Amid this recovery, Wizz Air announced a significant expansion at the site with the launch of 18 new routes. Simple Flying caught up with Marion Geoffroy, Managing Director of Wizz Air UK, to learn more about the airline’s ambitions at LGW.
Wizz Air opened its Gatwick base in October 2020 with just one aircraft. The low-cost powerhouse is now basing four additional Airbus A321neos at the airport ahead of the ramp-up. The addition of new routes to Bari, Bourgas, Faro, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Rome, Palma de Mallorca, Larnaca, Varna, Venice, Vienna, Catania, Podgorica, Tel Aviv, Chania, Mykonos, and Funchal, bolsters Wizz’ Gatwick network to a total 25 routes.
While the downturn in passenger activity since early 2020 shook up the industry from top to bottom, Wizz Air UK ensured that its long-term growth was not hindered, developing its presence at Cardiff, Doncaster Sheffield, Luton, and Gatwick.
Keeping the momentum going
Marion Geoffroy, who took over as Wizz Air UK MD last Autumn, highlights that all airlines were hit following the rise of the pandemic. As a result, they were forced to reinvent themselves. In the first instance, they had to survive the health crisis before strengthening for when recovery arrives.
Wizz decided to ramp it up. However, certain airlines decided to discontinue portions of their operations, forcing them to dispose of several holdings. Subsequently, some carriers have been willing to sell their prized assets to restructure their business. In practice, Wizz acquired 15 pairs of Gatwick Airport slots from Norwegian. This was a deal based on the Nordic carrier’s own restructuring and also Wizz’ determination to grow at Gatwick Airport.
Overall, Gatwick is the airport where an operator can’t grow as they simply wish. They need to acquire slots to be able to deploy additional capacity at the busy site.
Nonetheless, Wizz isn’t done expanding at Gatwick. Ms. Geoffroy emphasizes there is plenty of room for development at the airport and the broader area.
“The ideal expansion size is the size that will give us more opportunities to offer additional destinations, and also an even increased product to certain destinations. We have the capacity to grow because being an airline in a group that today has an aircraft purchase order book of 450 aircraft, we have the ability to deploy aircraft wherever we have capacity and wherever we have slots. So, in the UK, we can easily grow to 250 aircraft by the end of the decade. We want to deploy this capacity in the London markets. Today, we are in Luton and Gatwick, and definitely, we want to continue our growth trajectory in London and also in the UK regions. Therefore, we can easily deploy aircraft wherever there is an opportunity because we also have financial stability, and we can invest in these airports across the country.’A new chapter
Fares for the new flights begin as low as £8.99 ($12.00) one way. With a varied selection across Europe, there are plenty of options to mull over from East to West.
Wizz Air will be flying out of the South Terminal. The likes of TAP Air Portugal, Norwegian, and Iberia Express also join the carrier here, with British Airways, Ryanair and Vueling also expected to shift to the reopened terminal shortly.
The London area hub is expecting a 3,000% flight increase in April over last year. Wizz will be keen to make the most out of this recovery in the South of England.
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