Across its three air operators’ certificates (AOCs), the Wizz Air group has 162 aircraft. Operating budget flights as far west as the UK and as far east as Kazakhstan, this airline brand has grown immensely since it was first established in 2003. An all-Airbus, all-narrowbody fleet, Wizz Air has been modernizing its metal in recent years with the addition of A320neo family jets. Today, we take a deep dive into the Wizz Air fleet and its operations across Europe, the Middle East, and even Central Asia.
Three airlines, 162 aircraft
At a glance, we can see that Wizz Air group is technically made up of three different airlines under the parent company of Wizz Air Holdings Plc. If we were to look at their legal names, those airlines would be Wizz Air Hungary Airlines Limited, Wizz Air UK Limited, and Wizz Air Abu Dhabi.
The airline first began in Hungary. Photo: Wizz Air
Wizz Air (Hungary)
Wizz Air Hungary was the carrier that began it all. Based in Budapest, the carrier now has a total of 141 aircraft. This consists of the following Airbus jets:
- 52 A320-200s
- Six A320neos
- 35 A321-200s
- 47 A321neos
- and one A330-200F
The oldest aircraft across the entire group will be found in this particular subsidiary. Indeed, the airline’s A320-200s are as old as 15 years but have an overall average of about nine years. The A321-200s are a bit younger, averaging five years, while the A320 and A321neos are mostly between one and two years old. It’s worth noting, however, that multiple new jets are being delivered to Wizz Air almost every month! Wizz Air Hungary jets can be distinguished by the HA prefix on their registration codes.
Look for the HA prefix in the aircraf’ts registration to find out which Wizz subsidiary it belongs to! Photo: Wizz Air
We’ll get more in-depth regarding Wizz Air’s lone A330 freighter later in this article, so keep reading!
Wizz Air UK
The next entity was created specifically because of the UK’s exit from the European Union – otherwise known as Brexit.
Founded in October 2017, a few months after the UK triggered Article 50 to begin a formal withdrawal from the European Union, Wizz Air UK specifically exists to retain full UK market access – including operation of domestic flights within its borders. As such, Wizz Air UK has an operator’s certificate from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority and is permitted to carry passengers, cargo and mail on aircraft with 20 or more seats.
At the time of this article’s publication, the airline subsidiary has just 17 aircraft and are as follows:
- Three A320-200s
- Six A321-200s
- Eight A321neos
The A320-200s and A321-200s are fairly young at around four years of age. However, the A321neos are incredibly new, ranging from a few months old to just one and a half years old. You’ll be able to identify UK-based aircraft (apart from other Wizz Air jets) by spotting a G prefix on planes.
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi
Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is the airline group’s newest offshoot. Officially established in December of 2019, the airline took off on its first revenue flight in January of 2021. The airline actually only operates four aircraft, all Airbus A321neos. These were all delivered brand new to the carrier between August and December of 2020, making them quite young.
While only four Wizz Air jets are based in Abu Dhabi, the airline serves more destinations out of the airport by flying its European aircraft to the Emirate. This sees the airline operate service to Abu Dhabi from cities like Budapest, Bucharest, Krakow, and more, using HA prefix jets (as opposed to the A6 prefix that identifies Wizz Air jets based in the Emirates).
The A321neo is the main type for Wizz Air Abu Dhabi. Photo: Wizz Air
A single-class fleet-wide layout
As is typical with most low-cost carriers, Wizz Air’s jets are fitted with a single class configuration. While seat width is a fairly standard 17 to 18 inches among budget airlines and their 737s or A320s, Wizz Air’s seat pitch is quite tight. This equates to some of the densest cabins in the industry.
While Ryanair offers a seat pitch of around 30 inches, Wizz Air passengers have a seat pitch of 28 inches. easyJet fits right in the middle with a seat pitch of about 29 inches – although seat numbers across identical types indicate that spacing is quite similar.
But while easyJet’s A321neos are fitted with 235 seats, Wizz Air takes things to the extreme by squeezing in an additional four – making room for a total of 239 passengers.
Wizz Air Hungary’s single widebody aircraft
At the outset of this article, it was mentioned that the airline is an all-Airbus, all-narrowbody fleet. This statement is true if we’re only looking at passenger operations and what travelers will experience for themselves.
However, the airline does in fact operate a single widebody aircraft in the form of a single Airbus A330-200F. This nearly eight-year-old freighter came from Qatar Airways in October 2020 and, as we noted before, came as part of a purchase by the Hungarian government, who wanted Wizz to fly Foreign Ministry cargo missions with it.
This aircraft is registered HA-LHU and is technically operated by Wizz Air under its AOC. However, it operates under the direction of Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Hungarian Government in general. This arrangement may not last forever as the low-cost carrier has only been contracted to operate the aircraft through March 31, 2023. However, if supply chain issues persist, then it’s quite conceivable that this arrangement will be extended.
Wizz Air’s green goals
In June of 2022, the airline announced that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with European aerospace manufacturer Airbus. This agreement covers a feasibility study for hydrogen-powered aircraft operations. As we noted in a previous article, the intent of this MoU is to gain insight into how future hydrogen-powered planes could impact the Hungarian budget airline’s business model and fleet.
Airbus and Wizz will partner up to examine the effects of future hydrogen-powered aircraft on the airline’s network, schedule, and bases. The two companies will study a wide range of issues related to new technology, such as refueling, aircraft range, and other performance characteristics.
“We believe that growth and sustainability are not mutually exclusive, with leading-edge new technology paving the way to more sustainable air travel. This momentous agreement with Airbus will advance sustainable aviation across the globe through development of ultra-efficient operations and business models of the future. ” -Johan Eidhagen, Chief People & Environmental, Social, and Governance Officer, Wizz Air
The airline didn’t stop there. About one month later, Wizz Air performed its first green demonstration flight, operating a special service between Bucharest and Lyon. Conducted in advance of the European Union’s Connecting Europe Days 2022 sustainability conference in Lyon, the A321neo flight was partially powered by sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The carrier utilized a 4.5-tonne blend of 30% pure SAF and 70% Jet A1 fuel. Overall, the trip used a 14.2% blend of SAF, cutting carbon emissions by 12.8%.
The airline joins several other carriers in demonstrating the acceptance of sustainable aviation fuel. While this makes for good marketing and public relations, airlines may soon be forced into burning some form of SAF. Indeed, the EU may soon mandate that airport suppliers offer fuel containing a minimum share of SAF, including a minimum share of synthetic fuel. According to IATA, the mandate is expected to start in 2025 with a minimum volume of SAF at 2%, increasing in five-year intervals to ultimately reach a minimum volume of 63% in 2050.
Hopefully not just greenwashing, Wizz Air is working on becoming more sustainable. Photo: Wizz Air
Commenting on Wizz Air’s environmentally-friendly reputation, Chief People and ESG officer, Johan Eidhagen said that the carrier has “the lowest carbon emissions per passenger-kilometer in Europe, which will be reduced by a further 25 percent by 2030.” This isn’t too surprising given the airline’s operation of neo aircraft combined with its high seat densities.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
What’s next for Wizz Air?
Quite a few of the airlines we’ve covered in this fleet analysis series are in transitional states. Wizz Air is another airline that’s in a bit of a transition period as well, as it continues to modernize its fleet with Airbus A320neo family jets. Of course, Wizz Air’s transition from old and less-efficient jets to newer, more efficient aircraft may not be as noticeable given the replacements are just revised, re-engined updates.
There won’t be a shift from Airbus to Boeing, nor a change from A320 family to A220 family. Shiny new cabin features won’t appear in new aircraft, nor will customers get any more legroom than they did before. Instead, Wizz Air will be the main beneficiary of its fleet modernization, with incoming aircraft being around 15% more efficient.
The airline is continually expanding and trying new routes. Photo: Wizz Air
In addition to updating and modernizing its fleet of Airbus narrowbodies, the airline will continue to seek new markets and expand into cities not yet served by the airline. From Iceland to the Canary Islands, and from Abu Dhabi to Kazakhstan, Wizz Air continues to test out new routes – many made possible with its neo aircraft.
A bigger change on the horizon will be the introduction of the A321XLR. Across the Group, there are 20 A321XLRs on order, which are expected to enter service in 2023. Speaking at a World Routes event for airlines and airports in 2021, József Váradi, co-founder and CEO of Wizz Air was clear about where his future long-range jets will and won’t fly: “We’ll go further east. We won’t be going transatlantic, ” adding “we’ll learn from others who tried to conquer the world [with long-haul, low-cost] and didn’t succeed. “
What is your experience of Wizz Air? What flights have you taken with this low-cost carrier? Let us know by leaving a comment.
Sources: IATA, SeatGuru, Planespotters.net, FlightRadar24.com