Central and Eastern European low-cost specialist, Wizz Air, is to expand its London offering, but not at Luton Airport, the largest point in its route network. It will introduce a daily link between the Romanian capital, Bucharest and London’s Gatwick Airport to the south of the capital from June 18, 2016 - a route it already serves from Luton, north of London.
The new connection will be the only direct flight between London Gatwick and Bucharest but Wizz Air’s daily flights between the two cities will remain at four, with one of its existing rotations between London Luton and Bucharest being cut to accommodate the new flight. WIzz Air has been serving the Bucharest - London market since January 2007 and will continue to offer three daily flights into Luton Airport, a route that was introduced almost ten years ago in January 2007.
Wizz Air says the new flight will appeal to a different passenger clientele than its existing offering due to the locations of the two airports. “This new Wizz Air daily service from Gatwick brings the best low-fare travel option for people traveling between south London or southern England and Bucharest,” said Owain Jones, chief corporate officer, Wizz Air.
Wizz Air currently operates 76 routes to 14 countries from the UK and with a network of 35 destinations, London Luton is the largest point in its network, ahead of its major mainland European bases in Budapest, Hungary; Warsaw, Poland and Bucharest, Romania.
London Gatwick will be the airline’s ninth airport in the UK alongside London Luton, Doncaster Sheffield, Bristol, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Belfast, Liverpool and Birmingham. It actually previously operated flights to London Gatwick for a seven month period between January and July 2008 from the Polish city of Katowice
Despite the return to Gatwick, Jones said Luton Airport would remain the focal point for the airline. He added: “Luton is our major port of entry. We don’t have any further plans for Gatwick at the moment. This is a reaction to the demand we saw for the flight.”
Jones confirmed the route would be served by an A321 and also denied the new launch marked a change of strategy for the airline. He added: “There is a demand for some primary airports but we have no plans for anything other than Luton and Gatwick (for Bucharest).”
Since starting operations in 2004, Wizz Air has carried nearly 30 million passengers through UK airports and last year handled more than five million passengers through the country.
“We are delighted to welcome Wizz Air to Gatwick as they launch the only direct connection from the airport to the Romanian capital, Bucharest,” said Guy Stephenson, chief commercial officer, Gatwick Airport. “The daily flights will be attractive to passengers travelling on both leisure and those flying on business who may be taking advantage of Romania’s continued economic growth.”
The significance of London in the Wizz Air system is clear when you look more closely at its network. Data from intelligence provider, OAG, shows that this year its London Luton operation will account for just over ten percent of the carrier’s network activities with almost 30,000 scheduled movements offering over 5.2 million seats. This compares with around 20,000 movements and approaching four million seats from its second largest point, Budapest Airport in Hungary.