February 19, 2009 / 12:46 PM / 10 years ago

Wizz Air aims to double fleet by 2011

PRAGUE, Feb 19 (Reuters) - 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 no details. (Reporting by Robert Mueller; editing by John Stonestreet)

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