Wizz warns it will park planes to save cash if restrictions continue
BRITAIN’S second-biggest airline has warned it may have to “park planes” to preserve cash as the Covid crisis wreaks havoc on the industry during the leaner winter months.
Wizz Air also said if ongoing travel restrictions continue over the next three months, it will carry on flying at 60pc capacity rather than the 80pc previously guided.
Despite the downgrade, the FTSE 250 airline, which specialises in lowcost flights to eastern and central Europe, repeated an assertion that it will be a “structural winner” from the Covid crisis.
The Government prompted criti- cism from the industry as it continued to introduce a quarantine on arrivals from countries that are experiencing an increase in infection rates.
Restrictions imposed across Europe, and on Hungary in particular, led to yesterday’s warning.
Hungary has closed its borders to all overseas travellers to keep Covid infection rates under control.
Wizz said: “Further capacity reductions remain a possibility and as a result, Wizz Air may park parts of its fleet throughout the winter season to protect its cash balance.”
Airline stocks rank among the hardest hit as a result of the pandemic.
Wizz, however, has fared comparatively better than the likes of IAG, the owner of British Airways, and low-cost peer easyJet.
IAG shares, which have lost two thirds of their value since the start of the year, closed at 202.5p, down more than 6pc on the day, while Wizz stock, which began the year at £38.95, fell nearly 4pc yesterday to end at £37.42.
The travel industry is waiting for an update from ministers on a potential reintroduction of quarantine rules for Portugal – just two weeks after they were removed.
Willie Walsh, the outgoing boss of IAG, added his voice to frustration aired by Stewart Wingate, the Gatwick chief, last week over Boris Johnson’s administration turning restrictions on and off.
Mr Walsh lamented “ever-changing” quarantine requirements that have led to the UK hanging a “closed sign” over its borders.
Mr Wingate said last week: “A laserlike focus from the Government on how we make the travel corridors more stable such that when we open them up that they remain open.
“The uncertainty created by turning them on and off erodes consumer confidence. To build confidence that if you do go away, you can get back without quarantining.”