Wizz Air is adding two new destinations in Poland to its network, increasing the number of destinations served in the country to 12.
From Dec. 3, the airline plans to begin flying to Bydgoszcz (BZG) in northern Poland for the first time, offering two flights per week from London Luton (LTN). A second new route from London Luton will launch 10 days later, connecting the UK airport with Lodz Airport Central Poland (LCJ) twice a week.
Bydgoszcz is served by three carriers at the present time, with Ryanair offering four routes to Birmingham (BHX), Dublin (DUB), London Luton and London Stansted (STN). LOT Polish Airlines also provides domestic connections to Warsaw Chopin (WAW) and Krakow (KRK), while Smartwings flies to Antalya (AYT) in Turkey.
Wizz’s entry to the Bydgoszcz-London market will therefore see it compete directly with Ryanair. OAG Schedules Analyser data shows that the Irish airline intends serve LTN twice a week and STN four times per week by the time Wizz launches its new route.
The addition of flights to Lodz also mark Wizz’s return to the airport after almost a decade away. It previously served the city from March 2010 until May 2013 when it ended flights to London Luton. Service to Dortmund (DTM) in Germany had also been cut a few months earlier.
Lodz Airport President Anna Midera said she hopes the new route will mark the start of a deeper cooperation with the Hungarian carrier. “The economic potential of the city and region will bring Wizz many business advantages and encourage them to further develop their network,” she added.
Lodz, located in central Poland some 140 km (87 mi.) away from the capital Warsaw, is currently served by Ryanair to London Stansted and Dublin, as well as Smartwings to Rhodes (RHO).
Ryanair also plans to add three more Lodz routes during the forthcoming winter 2022/23 season, launching operations to Alicante (ALC), Brussels Charleroi (CRL) and Milan Bergamo (BGY).
Looking at the Lodz-London market, data provided by ASM’s Airport Catchment Analyser tool shows that in the 12 months to March 2020 there were 188,000 two-way passengers who traveled to London from a 72-km (45-mi.) catchment area of Lodz, where traffic is closer to LCJ than any other airport.
Only a small share was captured by the direct services operated from Lodz, with a larger proportion traveling primarily to Warsaw Chopin. Some passengers also used Krakow, Katowice (KTW) and Gdansk (GDN)—all of which required significant surface journeys to reach the respective airports.
Of the 188,000 two-way passengers identified within the 72-km catchment area, 66,500 traveled to London Luton, 82,000 to London Stansted, 25,000 to London Heathrow (LHR), 10,000 to London Gatwick (LGW) and 4,000 to London City (LCY).
“Wizz Air’s new connection to London Luton will mean that we will serve an additional 35,000 passengers annually,” said Artur Fraj, general director at Lodz Airport. “If we add to this the new Ryanair’s routes and charter flights for 2023, we can expect the best result for almost a decade.”
Lodz, which will host Routes Europe 2023, is home to a population of about 1 million inhabitants. The city was built around its textiles industry but has transformed its economy since the turn of the century to focus on manufacturing, life sciences and advanced technology.
Once Wizz launches the new routes from London Luton, Bydgoszcz and Lodz will become the ULCC’s 11th and 12th gateways in Poland. For the week commencing Sept. 19, OAG data shows that the airline currently offers more than 120,000 weekly departure seats from and within Poland across about 540 flights.
In addition to the Polish expansion, Wizz has also confirmed the addition of two more destinations from Greece’s capital Athens (ATH). Flights to both Tel Aviv (TLV) and Tirana (TIA) will begin on Dec. 12, with each destination set to receive three flights per week.
Wizz serves eight destinations from Athens at the present time. It will compete in the Athens-Tirana market with Aegean Airlines and Air Albania, while Aegean Airlines, Arkia, Blue Bird Airways, El Al Israel Airlines and Israir all serve Athens-Tel Aviv.
Earlier this week, Wizz gave notice to Airbus to exercise its purchase rights for 75 Airbus A321neos. The additional aircraft, which are expected to be delivered in 2028 and 2029, is part of Wizz’s ambition to increase its fleet to more than 500 jets by the end of the decade.
The airline currently operates a fleet of 165 Airbus aircraft and has more than 300 on order.