The Hungarian low-cost airline, Wizz Air, is to close down its base in Košice from mid-May. Simultaneously it will cancel three out of the four routes it operates from this second biggest city in Slovakia.
“After careful consideration, we decided to adjust the Košice flight plan and shift capacity to other Wizz Air lines with higher demand,” said Wizz Air business director George Michalopoulos, as cited by the Sme daily.
As of May 14, the Hungarian low-cost airline will operate only one route, from Košice to London-Luton, were it has its base. It will scrap the routes to Cologne in Germany, Tel Aviv in Israel and Doncaster in the United Kingdom.
The airline opened the route to Cologne less than a year ago. The first flight took place in late June 2017.
Customers who have lost their existing bookings due to these changes should contact Wizz Air. It is offering alternative flights or compensation of 120 percent of the original ticket price.
Košice airport has expressed surprise at Wizz Air’s decision.
“We would like to stress that all the routes that the airline is cancelling achieved exceptionally good results and were very popular with travellers,” said Michael Tmej, CEO of Košice airport, as cited by Sme, adding that the airport was working on the increase of flights to these destinations. “The decision cannot have been made on a commercial basis.”
Last year Košice airport reported an increase in the number of passengers by almost 14 percent year-on-year, to almost 0.5 million.
The closure of the base also means a loss of jobs at the airport. Wizz Air employees in Košice will be offered work in another location, including relocation assistance.
Having a base means that the airline leaves the plane at the airport overnight. This enables it to fly earlier in the morning or to arrive later in the evening.
Recently Wizz Air announced the opening of its base in Vienna. During this year it plans to launch flights to 17 destinations from the Austrian capital.
In late January Wizz Air announced the closing of its base at Václav Havel Airport Prague, in mid-June and the reduction of nine routes there to three. It gave low demand as the reason.