A very interesting article by Sean Carney and Leos Rousek in the Wall Street Journal yesterday argues that Wizz Air is very adeptly taking advantage of what has become a weak Central/Eastern European budget airline market. As SkyEurope stumbles—the airline successfully applied for bankruptcy protection last week—and the effort to privatize CSA Czech Airways is postponed, Wizz Air is moving forward in the region as a serious player.
Carney and Rousek point out that Wizz Air will fly to all but two of SkyEurope's destinations by the end of the summer, leaving the beleaguered SkyEurope little room to argue for a distinctive route map. Wizz Air is also developing Prague as an additional hub, which will bring it into further—and in some cases direct—challenge with Czech Airways.
Wizz Air is known among LCC followers as a bare bones operation. The perks are few and far between. If the budget airline comfort scale has Ryanair at 1 and Air Berlin at 5, Wizz Air is damn close to 1. But all this will cease to matter if Wizz Air effectively becomes the biggest player in Central and Eastern Europe and keeps its fares dirt cheap in the process. For the airline to capitalize on its growth, I have the following six recommendations:
1. Oppose the fee and surcharge madness afflicting budget airlines in Europe by branding and publicizing an outright refusal to tack such costs onto fares.
2. Expand routes from Bulgaria and Romania into Germany, Scandinavia, the UK, Germany, Spain, and Italy.
3. Develop routes between Turkey and Germany, Scandinavia, and the UK. Target these expansions to family and business travelers, not holiday travelers.
4. Develop routes to the former Yugoslavia and Albania. No budget airline has aggressively moved into the Western Balkans, and there is much room for maneuver here. Target migrant and holiday travel streams alike.
5. Give us something exciting. Baku? Tbilisi? Trabzon? Minsk? Budget European explorers want new corners of continent to explore. Become our new favorite airline.
6. Add a carbon offsetting option at check out.