Wizz Air makes Hamburg airport switch

Central and Eastern European low-cost specialist, Wizz Air is to move its Northern German operations into Hamburg from the secondary Lübeck Airport to the city’s main international gateway at Fuhlsbüttel, the fifth busiest airport in the country by passenger demand. The move is due to the ongoing financial issues at Lübeck Airport which has seen successive owners file for bankruptcy.

Wizz Air will transfer its flights to Gdansk, Skopje and Kiev from next month and at the same time end its flights to Riga. It will continue to connect Hamburg to Gdansk with four flights a week and Skopje and Kiev with twice-weekly flights from April 17, 2016.

The airline is currently the sole remaining scheduled user at Lübeck Airport since Ryanair switched its own operations in 2014. It has subsequently grown its presence from Hamburg Airport and will open a single aircraft base at the facility from winter 2016/2017.

“Northern Germany is an important market for Wizz Air and we have found that a large percentage of our current passengers are coming from or going to places closer to Hamburg rather than Lübeck,” said Gyorgy Abran, Chief Commercial Officer, Wizz Air.

“This move to Hamburg, the second biggest city in Germany, will create further benefit to our travellers and support development of the economic engine,” he added.

Lübeck, a former Luftwaffe airbase, was developed for commercial passenger operations in the 1990s following the re-unification of Germany. It was developed as the secondary airport for the Hamburg Metropolitan Region and particular for low-cost airlines interested in serving quieter, more rural settings where they could achieve fast turnarounds and keep costs to a minimum.

Ryanair launched operations from Lübeck in 2000, while Wizz Air arrived in 2006. Passenger numbers have been in decline since the middle of the last decade falling from a high of 715,731 passengers in 2005 to just 168,593 passengers last year, less than the 184,622 passengers carried when Ryanair first introduced scheduled flights to the airport.

Elsewhere, Wizz Air continues to expand its offering from both Romania and Bulgaria. In the former the airline will add two more flights a week from Bucharest to London Luton to make 25 weekly flights between the two capitals, while in the latter a new route between Sofia and Copenhagen will be launched. The three times weekly service to Denmark’s capital city will take-off from June 13, 2016 and will be only Wizz Air’s second route to Copenhagen alongside a link from Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, which will launch later this month from March 22, 2016.

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…