Central and Eastern European low-cost specialist Wizz Air is to open a seventh operating base in Romania as it seeks to strengthen its market-leading position in the country amid increasing competition. The budget operator will open a single aircraft base at Sibiu International Airport from August 2016 to open four new routes, while it will also establish the only regular year-round international service from Suceava’s Ștefan cel Mare International Airport.
Wizz Air is already the leading airline in the Romanian market having overtaken the capacity offering of national carrier TAROM in 2014. It currently offers 114 routes from the country’s airports providing low-fare access between Romania and the 16 countries for both business and leisure travellers. It has 19 aircraft based in Romania, an investment it values at nearly €2 billion and accounts for almost a third of all seats available from Romania’s airports.
“Customers in Romania continue to look to Wizz Air for low fares to more destinations throughout Europe and the Middle East and we are responding with more capacity, more aircraft, more routes, and more local jobs,” said György Abran, chief commercial officer, Wizz Air.
The airline first introduced flights to Sibiu in June 2014. The city is one of the most important cultural centres of Romania and former capital of Transylvania in the central region of the country. Wizz Air currently serves Sibiu from Dortmund and London Luton, but the arrival of the based aircraft will enable new routes to be added from mid-August 2016 to Nuremburg (three times weekly), Memmingen (twice weekly), Bergamo (twice weekly) and Madrid (twice weekly). It will also boost its schedule to London Luton to five weekly flights.
The launch of operations at Suceava’s Ștefan cel Mare International Airport in Northern Romania will further enhance connectivity in and out of the country and highlights how LCCs such as Wizz Air are facilitating access between smaller Central and Eastern European communities and major international cities. The airline will initially offer a four times weekly route to its largest network point, London Luton Airport in the UK, from August 19, 2017, but additional markets are understood to be under consideration.
The airline’s arrival at Suceava’s small airport, which is named after the Prince of Moldavia Stephen the Great, follows major infrastructure improvements at the facility this decade which have included the construction of a brand new asphalt runway (replacing an older concrete offering). TAROM currently offer the only regular flights from Suceava with a link to the capital Bucharest.
“As the airline carrying more Romanian passengers than any other, we are very excited about our growth in Sibiu and the addition of Suceava as another new destination in Romania and we will continue to invest in our operations,” said Abran.
Wizz Air carried more than 4.5 million people through Romanian airports in 2015 compared with 3.9 million in 2014. In addition to adding this new flight to Suceava later this year, the airline also will establish base operations in Iasi in July, increasing low-fare travel options for Northern Romania.
It is also adding additional capacity in other locations in Romania with new aircraft arriving later this year in Cluj-Napoca and in Bucharest. Phase 2 of its Airbus A321 deployment programme will see the delivery next month of the first A321ceo at its Bucharest base.
Wizz Air made its debut in the Romanian market in July 2006 when it introduced flights to Tirgu Mures from Budapest and now offers flights from eight Romanian destinations comprising, Arad, Bucharest Henri Coanda, Cluj-Napoca, Constana, Craiova, Iasi, Sibiu, Tirgu Mures and Timisoara
Our analysis of OAG Schedules Analyser data shows Wizz Air’s rise in the Romanian international market since its debut in 2006. In 2013 it increased its marketshare of international capacity beyond the 30 percent figure, rising to 33.3 percent in 2014 and 34.6 percent last year: it is scheduled to rise to 36.2 per cent in 2016, based on current published schedules having boosted its own capacity year-on-year before this latest growth by 21.2 per cent.