Saturday 16 December 2017

Wizz Air boss: We will fly from Dublin but won't pick 'dogfight' with Ryanair

Wizz Air ceo Jozsef Varadi speaking in Dublin
Wizz Air ceo Jozsef Varadi speaking in Dublin

John Mulligan EXCLUSIVE

Ryanair rival Wizz Air will eventually enter the Dublin market, but doesn't plan to engage in a frontal assault on the Irish airline just yet, according to founder and ceo Jozsef Varadi.

The Hungarian carrier is notable by its absence from Ireland, serving only Belfast on the island. "You never say never," said Mr Varadi in an interview with the Irish Independent, on whether he will target Dublin. "But we have better opportunities than picking a dogfight with Ryanair."

"When you have bigger fish to fry, that's what you pursue and that's what we have been doing. We are very measured on growth capacity. So we don't want to grow and jeopardise the financial performance of the company. We're trying to find a fine line of bringing in financial results in line with expectations, and growing the business as needed from a strategic, longer-term perspective."

Wizz Air, is listed on the London stock exchange and a FTSE-250 company. It is the biggest carrier in central and eastern Europe, competing with Ryanair in many markets.

"I recognise that we are not flying to Ireland, but I'm sure that we will be at some point," said Mr Varadi.

Wizz Air generated revenue of €1.42bn in its financial year to the end of last March, with a profit after tax of €223.9m. This year it expects profits of between €245m and €255m.

Wizz Air's single biggest shareholder is US-based private equity vehicle Indigo Partners, a company headed by aviation veteran Bill Franke that was co-founded by Ryanair chairman David Bonderman. Mr Varadi said Wizz Air - which had €805m in cash at the end of September - does not intend to initiate any dividend policy.

"We are still in a high-growth phase of the airline. We need ammunition to support that growth," he said. "We've done reasonably well. In 2019, we will start taking delivery of new aircraft. We're getting better credit ratings and enjoying lower cost of financing as a result."

In a tough market, Wizz Air's boss said he's surprised more small airlines haven't gone bust, but noted the still low-cost fuel environment. He ruled out interlining agreements with legacy carriers. Ryanair has already lined up deals with Aer Lingus and Norwegian.

Read the interview in full

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