As Wizz Air adopted winter schedules, it inaugurated 20-plus new routes involving its Hungary, UK, and Abu Dhabi units. The Group launched Leeds Bradford flights using non-based aircraft, replacing service to Doncaster, which has shut, while Wizz Air Abu Dhabi has lifted off to Kuwait and Dammam. As for Wizz Air UK, it has introduced seven routes from London Luton and London Gatwick – including its first Egypt flights.

Seven London routes start

Details of the seven routes are shown below. Not all are new: Wizz Air operated from London Luton to Tallinn from September 2018 until October 2019, initially using its Hungarian and then UK unit, while Luton to Prague existed from February 2009 to May 2020.

Intriguingly, all but one has head-to-head competition, which Wizz Air typically avoids. However, they’re against higher-cost and higher-fare operators, most often easyJet. There will be some ‘fighting’ and impact on fares, but Wizz Air is ultimately about growing each market.

Route Start date Wizz Air flights Head-to-head competition this winter
London Gatwick to Agadir October 30th 4x weekly easyJet (up to 1x daily), TUI (up to 2x weekly)
London Gatwick to Marrakesh October 30th 6x weekly (1x daily at times) easyJet (up to 2x daily), BA (up to 10x weekly), TUI (up to 2x weekly)
London Gatwick to Sharm El Sheikh November 1st 2x weekly easyJet (up to 5x weekly), TUI (up to 3x weekly)
London Luton to Hurghada November 1st 2x weekly easyJet (up to 3x weekly)
London Luton to Sharm El Sheikh October 31st 2x weekly easyJet (up to 4x weekly)
London Luton to Prague October 30th 6x weekly (later 1x daily) easyJet (returns February 3rd, up to 6x weekly but normally 4x)
London Luton to Tallinn November 1st 3x weekly None
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Wizz Air A321neo
(Not a Wizz Air UK A321neo.)

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Hello, Sharm El Sheikh!

Egypt’s Red Sea resort was always a popular market for the British, with 1.3 million nonstop scheduled and charter passengers from 15 UK airports in 2014, according to the UK CAA. It was a time when the now-defunct Monarch and Thomas Cook were important players in the market.

Why did I choose 2014? Because in November 2015 all UK flights were banned following the explosion of Metrojet flight 9268 and the resulting UK Government’s suspicions of the effectiveness of Sharm El Sheikh’s security.

Nearly five years later, in October 2019, the ban ended, half a year before the pandemic wreaked havoc. Wizz Air UK is one of three carriers to offer UK winter flights to Sharm and Hurghada.


Photo: Wizz Air UK.

Some long sectors

The sweet spot for ULCC aircraft productivity is one to two hours. This enables high daily utilization by sectors per aircraft per day and, if coupled with an early start and late finish, high aircraft utilization by block hours per day too. It means more passengers are carried daily, driving fare revenue and ancillary revenue from the higher passenger volume. It also helps to reduce unit costs.

Six sectors and 12+ hours are often considered good, but that’s not always possible, especially if some sectors are long. That’s the case for Egypt, with Wizz Air UK’s aircraft to Egypt performing four sectors a day, the same as for other long trips, such as Tel Aviv and coming Luton-Amman.

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Wizz Air's first London Luton to Sharm El Sheikh flight

Example: October 31st

On October 31st, 0.5-year-old G-WUKU, a 239-seat A321neo, operated Wizz Air’s first Luton flight to Sharm. That day, G-WUKU’s four-sector schedule was as follows, obviously with one crew operating two sectors:

  1. Luton to Riga: 06:25-11:10 (2h 45m block time)
  2. Riga to Luton: 11:45-12:45 (3h)
  3. Luton to Sharm: 14:00-21:30 (5h 30m)
  4. Sharm to Luton: 22:05-01:50+1 (5h 45m)

It covered 6,942 miles (11,172km) – farther than London to Singapore one-way – and had a huge block time of 17 hours. That’s the thing: longer but fewer sectors typically mean more block hours and lower seat-mile costs by spreading aircraft ownership costs, in particular, across more available seat miles, but there are fewer passengers. As ever, it’s a balancing act.

What do you make of it? Let us know in the comments.


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