Daily Mail

Wizz will cre­ate 5,000 jobs if it lands ex­tra slots

- by Francesca Washtell Business · Airlines · Transportation · Travel · Infectious Diseases · Industries · Health Conditions · London Gatwick Airport · European Commission · British Airways · Virgin Atlantic · United Kingdom · Airbus · Wizz Air · Airbus A321

WIZZ Air is push­ing for more land­ing slots at Gatwick, in­sist­ing it would be able to cre­ate 5,000 jobs.

While ri­vals are shed­ding staff in the midst of the worst cri­sis in the his­tory of avi­a­tion, the bud­get car­rier says it is des­per­ate to ex­pand.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Jozsef Varadi is press­ing for more take- off and land­ing slots to be taken away from larger air­lines if they are not able to use them due to the coro­n­avirus cri­sis.

It has been fly­ing routes in and out of Gatwick since 2016 and set up a base there last month, which al­lows it to keep just one plane at the air­port.

Varadi said the air­line is keen to ex­pand this to 20 air­craft but that it is held back by rules around take- off and land­ing slots that have been sus­pended dur­ing the cri­sis.

Air­port slots work on an 80/20 rule that means air­lines have to be us­ing them 80pc of the time or they will lose them – but th­ese rules have been scrapped tem­porar­ily be­cause of the dis­rup­tion caused by the pan­demic.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, which sets the 80/20 rules, is due to re­assess the sus­pen­sion later this month.

Easyjet and Bri­tish Air­ways, which are both shed­ding thou­sands of jobs, have the most land­ing slots at Gatwick. Vir­gin At­lantic has an­nounced plans to leave the air­port.

Varadi said: ‘We would be able to ex­pand more in the UK, es­pe­cially at Gatwick, but we are held back by the 80/20 rule at the mo­ment. It is rigged in favour of the in­cum­bent.

‘Now it’s down to the mar­ket to make the de­ci­sion: op­er­ate the slots or give the op­por­tu­nity to other car­ri­ers.’ But Wizz Air’s claims it stands ready to hire thou­sands of staff will be greeted with scep­ti­cism in some quar­ters.

Yes­ter­day the Hun­gar­ian car­rier also warned it may be forced to park some of its planes over the win­ter to pre­serve cash as de­mand has not picked up as quickly as ex­pected. The air­line op­er­ates a fleet of 130 Air­bus A320 and A321 air­craft.

Wizz had hoped to be run­ning at 80pc of 2019 lev­els by the end of this year.

It now thinks it is likely to be stuck at around 60pc be­cause of re­stric­tions such as quar­an­tines that have led to fewer flight book­ings than planned.

The air­line’s shares fell 3.8pc, or 146p, to 3742p fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment.

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