Wizz Air, a Hungarian ultra-low-cost carrier, has reported that 84 routes have been permanently pulled from sale, with a third of those routes including flights to Italy, Wizz Air’s most-served country since the pandemic began.

In ULCC, the frontier airline holdings, or the surviving ultra-low-cost carriers, a similar trend of route cutbacks has been observed, with four out of ten of its cuts comprising identical Wizz Air routes. Routes connecting Western Europe to the Middle East, Turkey, and North Africa account for over half of the reduction.

Furthermore, 12 routes — Alghero, Charleroi, Cologne, Dortmund, Eindhoven, Faro, Madrid, Menorca, Oslo, Skavsta, Tallinn, and Warsaw – have been discontinued from Vienna Airport. The Austrian airport and Wizz Air partnered in 2018 and have experienced significant growth from low-cost and ultra-low-cost carriers, with 12.3 million seats sold in 2019 — more than double the previous two years.

Although all airlines are affected by the pandemic to some extent, Wizz Air and Ryanair are disproportionately affected because many of their routes are new. This year, a dozen Wizz Air Vienna services, including Skavsta, a 103 km route from Vienna to Stockholm, were in direct rivalry with Ryanair.

While Wizz Air dropped this flight, Ryanair added Arlanda, and the Vienna route was relocated to the latter. However, since adding Stockholm Arlanda, Ryanair no longer services Skavsta and has switched its Vienna route to Arlanda, stealing this route from its competitors.

Other airports that have been hit hard include Larnaca in Cyprus, which has lost eight routes, Warsaw (seven), Naples (six), Gdansk, Milan Malpensa, and Eindhoven (five each), Dortmund and Sofia (four each), and Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine (three).

Furthermore, Wizz Air will end service to the Norwegian city of Bod and the Turkish tourist destination of Bodrum, as both of these destinations had only one route: Bod from Gdansk (Poland) and Bodrum from Rome. The 1,453-kilometer route from Gdansk to Bod was inaugurated by the ULCC in May 2019, and the Rome-Bodrum link was inaugurated in July 2021.

Casablanca, Morocco’s largest city, joined Wizz Air’s network this summer and has only welcomed flights from Malpensa, Rome, Venice, Bologna, and Naples, with two of the latter being discontinued.

However, low-cost and ultra-low-cost carriers are likely to see their days of being cost-effective options dwindle as they no longer serve their original goal of providing low-cost flight tickets. According to a recent analysis published by the European Travel Council (ETC), travel costs have reduced over the last two decades, with worldwide average spending per international trip across all destinations falling by 17% in real terms in 2019 from 2000 levels.

Cheap airfares, which increased the frequency of trips such as shorter stays and weekend city breaks, according to ETC, are to blame for the downfall of these low-cost carriers.

– India’s new age travel digital media


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