CEO of Wizz Air, Josef Varadi, has shed a little light on the airline’s plans for their forthcoming A321XLRs. Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg this week, he confirmed that Dubai from London is very much on the cards, as are links between Eastern Europe and India. However, they won’t be heading transatlantic any time soon.
Now it seems clear that both India from central Europe and Dubai from London could well be on the cards. At an interview this week, Josef Varadi has indicated both are under scrutiny, but that they are yet to make any firm plans.
The XLR is coming
The forthcoming fleet of A321XLRs was ordered at the Paris Air Show this week, by investor Indigo Partners. In total, Indigo Partners ordered 50 of the A321XLR, a new plane type which was launch by Airbus on the first day of the show.
The planes are due to be split between Wizz, JetSmart in Chile and Frontier Airlines in the US. Although Indigo negotiated the bulk deal to get a good rate, Varadi told Bloomberg that sales contracts are with the individual airlines.
Out of the 50, the lions’ share is destined for Wizz, 20 aircraft in total. Just a few months ago, Wizz took delivery of their first A321neo, the first of a massive order of 184 they have with Airbus. At the time, Varadi said it was a ‘game-changing’ plane – clearly, the A321XLR is going to change the game even further.
London to Dubai
Initially, Varadi was fairly tight-lipped about his plans for the aircraft, simply saying that he wanted to ‘connect more dots’ in his network. Speaking to Reuters after the order at PAS, Varadi said,
“Our network spans from the Canary Islands to Astana in Kazakhstan, from Reykjavik in Iceland to Dubai. The XLR gives users the opportunity to connect more dots in our existing network. This is what we’re looking at.”
Now, it seems he is keen to be more specific about future plans, telling Bloomberg that Dubai from London is a definite consideration. Currently, only Emirates and British Airways offer a direct service between the two cities. Flights on Wizz Air have to connect in Budapest, which can make the trip in excess of 20 hours.
Pegasus too offer a connection, but with a stop in Istanbul, again increasing what should be a seven-hour flight to around nine or ten hours. As such, the route is relatively underserved by low-cost airlines on a direct basis, and could be a great choice for Wizz.
Eastern Europe to India
Varadi also indicated to Bloomberg that India was a destination being looked at for the A321XML. At many eastern European hubs, there is a distinct lack of direct connections to cities in India. From Budapest, for instance, a Wizz Air hub, Delhi requires a one-stop itinerary, and Mumbai, Chennai, Goa, and Kolkata are all two.
From Sofia, another Wizz HQ, it’s the same scenario, one stop to Delhi and two or more to anywhere else. And from Katowice, Poland, which was the original hub of Wizz, everywhere in India is three stops or more.
Clearly, there is an opportunity here for Wizz. With Jet Airways stopped in their tracks from expanding into Eastern Europe, the market is ripe for the picking.
Not the US
The interview with Varadi cleared up one area of speculation. Wizz Air has no intention of deploying its A321XLRs on any transatlantic routes. Winsome ways that are a relief, as the transatlantic market is a whole different ball game from getting Eastern Europe better connected.
We all know what happened to the last LCC who jumped too far into that market. Wizz has a whole load of market opportunities available in their local area, so there’s really no need for them to jump into a saturated market where they’ll be competing on price alone.
I, for one, am thoroughly excited to see new connections from this LCC. In a world where cheap carriers seem to be failing every day, it’s great to see one bucking the trend and doing things right.