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Wizz Air given tailwind by turbulence in airline industry | Business News

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Turbulence in the airline industry has benefitted Wizz Air with the budget carrier expecting profits to grow in the current year.

However, the optimistic outlook for the Hungary-based operator failed to impress the markets and shares fell by 3.4% in early trading.

Against a backdrop of other carriers going bust, Wizz Air saw passenger numbers soar by 16.7% in the year to 31 March.

Wizz Air aircraft
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Wizz’s focus means it is sheltered from the intense competition on some routes

The boost helped revenues increase 19.6% to €2.3bn (£2bn) with pre-tax profits up 4.5% to €300m (£266m) during the period.

Wizz’s focus on eastern and central Europe means it is sheltered from some of the intense competition on popular Mediterranean routes, unlike its rivals easyJet and Ryanair.

Its net profit guidance for the coming year is expected to be between €320m (£283m) and €350m (£310m) – below consensus estimates of €363m (£322).

Chief executive Jozsef Varadi said the airline was benefiting from the struggles facing other airlines in Europe.

He added: “We remain very optimistic for the current financial year.

“Higher fuel prices are supporting a stronger fare environment and we expect these macro conditions to provide Wizz Air with market share opportunities as weaker carriers withdraw unprofitable capacity.”

EasyJet flight at Luton
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The operator is taking on easyJet in its own back yard at Luton Airport

He added: “We are the lowest cost producer and the highest margin airline in the industry. If the industry comes under pressure… then the lowest cost producer must prevail.

“If it’s painful then it’s going to be much less painful on us than anyone else.”

Meanwhile, Wizz Air has said it will have more airline seats available to passengers travelling from Luton Airport this summer than any other airline.

The decision to take on easyJet in its own back yard – the UK budget airline’s head office is at Luton Airport – is “a clear statement of our ambitions”, the company said.

This summer, Wizz Air will add two new planes to its UK fleet, bringing the total to 11.

Wizz Air has outperformed the airline market in a difficult year that has seen Flybmi and German business Germania both go bust.

Monarch Airlines, Primera, Air Berlin and Cobalt have also collapsed, while Flybe has been bought by a Virgin consortium and Thomas Cook is trying to sell its airline business.

Travel firms have also revealed that political uncertainty around Brexit has put off families from booking holidays.

Thomas Cook and TUI have both issued profit warnings this year, and analysts at Citigroup have called the former’s shares “worthless”.

By comparison, Wizz Air said it has added 125 new routes and spent €30m (£26m) on a state-of-the-art pilot and cabin crew training centre in Budapest and took delivery of two new A321 airbus planes.

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