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Wizz Air plans to take advantage of rivals weakness amid coronavirus

Elsewhere, Ryanair announced that traffic was down 99.5% in May

Wizz Air Holdings -

Wizz Air Holdings PLC (LON:WIZZ) said despite the coronavirus pandemic it plans to grow its flight capacity by 9% in the current year and take advantage of other carriers withdrawing capacity around Europe.

The FTSE 250 group reported results for the year to 31 March, where passenger numbers increased 15.8% to 40mln to lift revenue 19.1% to €2.8bn and underlying net profit 29.9% to €344.8mln.

Ending the year with a fleet of 121 aeroplanes, up from 112 over the previous 12 months, the Eastern Europe focused airline has begun flying after the initial grounding forced by lack of demand due to the pandemic. 

A day after announcing new routes to Albania, Cyprus, Italy and Ukraine, chief executive József Váradi said: “We are confident that we can ramp up operations quickly, re-stimulate demand with our ultra-low fares and contribute to the vital recovery of travel and tourism in our markets.”

With €1.5bn of total cash on the balance sheet, topped up with £300mln under the UK’s COVID corporate finance facility, Váradi said this strong liquidity is enabling the group to weather the crisis and take advantage of market opportunities as they arise.

He added that the group was reviewing its aircraft allocation “and will react to the new market reality by taking advantage of opportunities across Europe as other carriers withdraw capacity”.

Elsewhere, Ryanair Holdings plc (LON:RYA) announced that traffic was down 99.5% in May, with just 701 scheduled flights operated during the month compared to over 70,000 planned flights. 

Due to various EU government flight bans and restrictions, the Irish budget carrier said it expects “minimal traffic” in June but is expected to increase considerably from July.

Wizz shares were up 1% to 3,456p in early trading on Wednesday, while Ryanair's rose 3% to €12.38.

Broker Peel Hunt noted that Wizz's net profit was slightly below the guidance of €350-355m given in April.

While the number of seats is expected to increase 9% this year, Peel analysts said this is not expected to lead to an expansion in ASKs or profit margin, while adding that the lack of a further update on recent trading "is slightly disappointing". 

   --Adds share price and broker comment--

Quick facts: Wizz Air Holdings

Price: 3284 GBX

Market: AIM
Market Cap: £3.38 billion

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