While Wizz Air UK last week celebrated carrying 15 million passengers from London Luton, another British airport is proving to be valuable for the low-cost carrier (LCC). London Gatwick is providing several opportunities for Wizz in this recovery period as it competes with other low-cost operations.

Upping its game

Wizz Air and easyJet have long gone head to head when it comes to offering attractive fares to mainland Europe from the United Kingdom. However, there is renewed competition following the reopening of Gatwick’s South Terminal in March 2022. The facility was closed for nearly two years. Thus, Wizz geared up four additional Airbus A321neos to fly to new routes across Europe, including destinations in Italy, Austria, Greece, Israel, Portugal, and Spain.

Notably, Wizz previously took on 15 pairs of Gatwick Airport slots from Norwegian, another low-cost outfit, shaking up prospects in the market. Wizz Air UK’s Gatwick base opened just two years ago. While flights from here cover great ground throughout Europe, there is a noticeable contrast compared to routes from the London Luton base.

Wizz Air Airbus A321neo Aircraft

Photo: Getty Images

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Diversifying routes

Luton is heavily focused on Eastern and Central Europe. Meanwhile, Gatwick sees more balance across the continent and beyond.

When asked about the intent behind this split during a roundtable last week, Wizz Air UK Managing Director Marion Geoffroy highlighted to Simple Flying that Luton was the very first airport served by Wizz Air Hungary from Katowice back in 2004. Since then, Wizz Air Hungary grew its operations into Luton from all of its bases in Central and Eastern Europe. Eventually, it established a base in Luton, but following the rise of Brexit, it became apparent the outfit needed a local AOC to operate in the UK. Thus, Wizz Air UK was born.

Gatwick expansion was naturally on the cards for the airline. Still, it had to navigate conditions amid the existing activity at the airport.

“Being aggressive and growing to five aircraft in Gatwick has helped the airline build a more competitive product. easyJet has 70 aircraft based in Gatwick. So, we can’t compete on the routes, but we can compete on product and on cost, and this is what we did this summer. It was more leisure and worked very well for leisure traffic.”

Geoffroy noted that while there are some leisure services from Luton, the location sees more visiting family and friends (VFR) traffic. In comparison, Gatwick is more leisure-focused. Regardless, the carrier is determined to offer a competitive product from both sites.

Keeping a close eye

Wizz and its LCC counterparts will be heavily monitoring economic shifts. Analysts are anticipating that the UK will be in recession until the middle of next year. There are already significant challenges amid the country’s cost of living crisis. Despite the concerns, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary previously highlighted that the airline thrives in a recession due to its low costs.

Geoffroy feels that while there are opportunities for LCCs across the board, the situation is more sensitive this time around.

“If you look at history – 2008/2009, Wizz was very small at that time, but still benefited from the crisis. Customers were looking for cheaper options. The cost aspect is important and will differentiate the carriers. Summer has been strong as airlines made money, but now it’s important to rationalize decisions – we saw what happened two years ago when airlines were grounded.”

Wizz concluded that there are new customers that are considerably prioritizing cost. Altogether, people are significantly attached to brands in the UK, but the carrier is seeing a fundamental shift that is triggered by cost factors.

What are your thoughts about Wizz Air’s presence at London Gatwick Airport? What do you make of the prospects of the airline at the site? Let us know what you think in the comment section.

  • Wizz Air Getty Gdansk

    Wizz Air

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Ultra-Low-Cost Carrier

    Year Founded:

    József Váradi


  • GATWICK Airport

    London Gatwick Airport

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    United Kingdom

    Stewart Wingate

    Passenger Count :
    6,260,000 (2021)

    Runways :
    08L/26R – 2,565m (8,415ft) |08R/26L – 3,316m (10,879ft)

    North Terminal |South Terminal

Source: simpleflying.com

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