Wizz Air Raises Profit Forecast, Capacity Outlook As Rivals Struggle
Wizz Air has lifted the bottom end of its annual profit forecast and further raised its capacity growth outlook as the budget airline flew more passengers and curbed costs in the first-half while struggling rivals cut expansion plans.
Wizz, which mainly flies to central and eastern Europe, said that net profit for the financial year 2020 would be between €335 million and €350 million. It had an earlier range of €320 million to €350 million.
CEO József Váradi said that the airline is increasing its capacity growth rate to 22% from 20% promised in July, while net profit for the six months ended September 30 rose 87.1% to €371.5 million.
Fuel unit costs, however, increased 5.3% year-on-year.
Wizz, which competes with Lufthansa's Eurowings brand at European airports such as Vienna, is performing well in an industry plagued by weaker demand, rising fuel costs, competition, strikes, bankruptcies and the grounding of Boeing's 737 MAX fleet.
British Airways parent International Airlines Group (IAG) has warned that its full-year profit will be hit by a pilots' strike at the UK carrier, while Lufthansa is ready to go into arbitration to resolve a long-running staff dispute.
Ryanair also expects further delays to its 737 MAX deliveries.
Smart And Creative
Váradi, however, said that Wizz - powered by Airbus planes - has not really benefited from the groundings.
"Airlines were smart and created ways of replacing capacity in 85% of the cases," he said.
Wizz's central and eastern European focus has sheltered it from some of the fierce price competition that has dominated Western Europe's aviation market in recent years.
"Despite rapidly rising fuel costs, Brexit uncertainty and chronic overcapacity in the sector, Wizz Air was still able to report record financial results for the first half of the year," eToro analyst Adam Vettese, said.
"Wizz ... is leaving the rest of its low-cost rivals behind," he said.
Shares in the Budapest-based company were, however, 2% down in a weaker wider market, with analysts saying most of the good news was already in the price after the stock hit a record high earlier this month.
Váradi said that Wizz's British subsidiary, which was created 18 months ago with a fleet of 10 aircraft to ensure full market access to Britain after Brexit, was performing well.
He added that Wizz, which operates 70 routes flying out of Britain, has seen a lot of inbound tourism to the country despite Brexit jitters, with Britons travelling to Hungary, Poland, Tel Aviv and Cyprus.
Wizz also got some of collapsed travel firm Thomas Cook's airport slots, he said.