Wizz Air is continuing its expansion plans, picking up slots at London Gatwick airport (LGW) from Norwegian Air Shuttle and announcing plans to base more aircraft there.
On December 22, 2021, the low-cost carrier announced it had acquired 15 daily slot pairs from Norwegian and will base four additional A321neo aircraft at LGW. That means it will have five aircraft based at LGW under its British unit, Wizz Air UK, from Spring 2022.
Norwegian Air Shuttle, which has restructured its operations to focus on short-haul, no longer needs the LGW slots, it said in a separate stock exchange statement on December 22, 2021.
“These are excess slots Norwegian does not intend to operate following the airline’s decision to discontinue long haul operations in January 2021 and could have been lost unless disposed,” the Norwegian budget carrier said.
Wizz Air said it would provide further details of new routes from LGW in due course. Wizz Air UK’s biggest base is at London Luton airport (LTN). The airline added that the new slots would also create “significant inbound opportunities” for Wizz Air Hungary.
“Acquiring airport slots at Gatwick Airport will enable us to enhance our presence and competitive position in the London market,” Wizz Air chief executive József Váradi said in a press release.
While the Omicron variant has led to more travel restrictions for UK travelers, Varadi sounded a note of optimism.
“The 2022 season has the potential to be a tremendous opportunity for UK aviation to get back on its feet,” the CEO commented.
The Gatwick news comes shortly after Wizz Air announced a new aircraft order at the Dubai Airshow, part of its plans to reach a 500-strong fleet. The new order, unveiled on November 14, 2021, comprises the purchase of 102 A321 aircraft, options for a further 19 A321neo aircraft, as well as purchase rights for an additional 75 A321neo.