PRAGUE Feb 19 Low-cost air carrier Wizz Air
plans to double its fleet over the next two years as it seeks to
raise its share of a declining European airline market, the
firm's chief executive said on Thursday.
CEO Jozsef Varadi said that despite the expected industry
downturn, Wizz Air aimed to raise the number of passengers to 8
million in 2009 from 5.8 million last year.
It intends to double its fleet to 42 planes by 2011 from the
21 Airbus A320s it has now.
Speaking at the launch of the Budapest-based firm's
operations in Prague, Varadi said the low-cost segment would see
great consolidation over the next few years.
"There are 50 low-cost carriers now. I think you are going
to see five low-cost carriers 10 years from now," Varadi said.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said
earlier this month that global traffic in economy class -- which
accounts for 90 percent of all seats -- fell by 5.3 percent
year-on-year in December.
The main competitors Wizz Air faces in central and eastern
Europe are SkyEurope, EasyJet (EZJ.L) and Ryanair (RYA.I).
Varadi said the privately-held company made a profit at
operating level for the third consecutive year in 2008, but gave
(Reporting by Robert Mueller; editing by John Stonestreet)