Central and Eastern European low-cost specialist, Wizz Air, has announced it will launch its first routes into the Republic of Moldova from outside of Italy with the inauguration of a three times weekly link to its capital city, Chisinau, from its largest network point, London’s Luton Airport from October 27, 2015. The new link will end the monopoly of Air Moldova on the route between Moldova and the UK.
Wizz Air has been serving the Moldova market for two-and-a-half years after first introducing flights to Chisinau from Rome’s Ciampino - G. B. Pastine International Airport and Treviso’s Sant'Angelo Airport in October 2013. It added flights from Bergamo Orio al Serio Airport to its network in November 2014 and has this year boosted the frequency of flights on all three routes to meet growing demand.
“We’re excited to see passenger demand to and from Chisinau continue to grow as Wizz Air’s low fares become more and more popular and it’s great for us to be a part of the rise of Moldova as a tourist destination,” said the airline’s spokesman, Daniel de Carvalho.
“London has great potential as an origination city for business and leisure travellers flying to Moldova and as a destination. We see these new routes as a signal of strength for Chisinau,” he added.
The UK – Moldova market is dominated by Air Moldova which has offered continuous flights between London and Chisinau since March 2007. These were initially operated to Stansted Airport, before switching to Gatwick Airport from May 2009 and then returning back to Stansted from May 2013. The airline has subsequently boosted its offering with additional frequencies and this summer is offering is largest schedule in this city pair market.
The only competition it has faced in the past ten years has come from Romanian carrier Carpatair, which cooperates closely with regional carrier Moldavian Airlines. Together the airlines provides a short-lived Chisinau – London Luton operation between December 2013 and March 2014 but the route ended after just 17 return flights that winter.
According to data from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), demand between the UK and Moldova has grown in each of the last four years of this decade, rising from just 4,604 annual passengers in 2010 to 24,926 in 2014, a 74.3 per cent rise on the previous year.
The new route further strengthens the Wizz Air operation from London Luton, where it is the second largest carrier, and its announcement follows just days after the budget airline introduced new weekly services from the airport to the Romanian city of Constanta, located on the shores of the Black Sea; the Macedonian city of Ohrid and the Eastern Romanian city of Iasi.
The airline’s growth has helped the airport reach the one million monthly passenger figure in May 2015, the first time the milestone of a million passengers in a month has been reached before the start of the busy summer period. In response to the sustained demand from passengers, the airport is embarking on a £100 million redevelopment and investment programme to transform its facilities. The project will increase its annual capacity from 12 million to 18 million passengers by 2026, as well as delivering major upgrades throughout.
Our analysis of OAG Schedules Analyser data shows that Wizz Air currently serves 33 destinations from London Luton and had a 28.7 per cent share of departures and a 29.8 per cent share of capacity from the airport in 2014: only second to easyJet with 45.3 and 42.3 per cent shares, respectively.
With a total network now encompassing around 115 destinations, London Luton still accounts for more than a ten per cent share of Wizz Air’s total network capacity, ahead of its developing bases at Budapest, Bucharest, Gdansk, Warsaw and Katowice. This year’s network growth and increased frequency on many existing routes mean it is offering more than two million seats from the London market for the first time in its history.