Wizz Air has unveiled plans to add Austria as the 44th country in its network by establishing base operations at Vienna Airport.
The low-cost carrier will open its base with one Airbus A320 aircraft in June, which will be followed by the deployment of two additional Airbus A321 aircraft in November.
Eight new routes will be launched from summer 2018 and a further nine for the winter 2018/19 season. They include to Rome, Valencia and Tel Aviv.
The decision follows a record year for the carrier, which carried 28 millon passengers in 2017 - a 24 percent growth - along with more than 100 new services.
Chief executive József Váradi said: “Today, everything changes for Austrian travellers. For the first time, truly low fares arrive in Vienna.
“Wizz Air’s Austrian customers now have the opportunity to travel from Vienna on an extensive network of routes to Europe and beyond at the lowest prices and experience Wizz Air’s great service onboard one of Europe’s youngest fleets.”
In total, Wizz will offer 450,000 seats on sale on its Austrian routes, operating 69 weekly flights by the end of the year from Vienna.
The Austrian move comes little over six months after the point-to-point carrier opened its first base in Western Europe at London Luton. Since then it has vowed to add four Airbus A320 aircraft to its base there by June 2018 and snapped up a number of slots vacated by collapsed carrier Monarch.
Wizz’s stated strategy is linking CEE destinations with Western Europe, primarily from secondary airports. However, with flights from Vienna to the likes of Dortmund, Bari and Tenerife, the airline will offer its first services solely within Western Europe.
Eurowings and easyJet are currently the largest low-cost operators in Austria with an 8.5 percent and 3.4 percent capacity share of the market respectively in 2017, according to figures from OAG.
Wizz will be hoping to capitalise on the demise of Air Berlin and Niki, which had a 4.4 percent and 2.6 percent share.
In November 2017, the carrier underlined the scale of its ambitions by announcing an order for 146 new Airbus planes (72 A320neo and 74 A321neo), taking its total outstanding orders with the European manufacturer to 282.