Low-cost airline Wizz Air is cancelling most of its operations at Cardiff Airport over the winter, with up to 40 members of staff being offered posts in other parts of Britain.Wizz Air made the announcement that they will be suspending flights from the publicly-owned airport from September 19, blaming the “challenging macro-economic environment”.The Hungarian carrier will temporarily halt base operations during the winter months - stopping services to destinations including Alicante, Corfu, Heraklion, Faro, Larnaca, Lanzarote, Palma de Mallorca, Sharm el-Sheikh, and Tenerife.
The airline says it will continue to fly from Cardiff, with new winter season flights launching on October 30, to Milan and Bucharest.Marion Geoffroy, managing director, Wizz Air UK, said: “We are very disappointed to have to suspend several routes from Cardiff Airport for the winter season."Though these routes have proved popular through the summer season, it would not be commercially viable to continue to operate them through this coming winter due to the challenging macro-economic environment. This leaves us with no option but to pause these routes until next spring.“We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience this will cause customers who already booked flights with us. We are in touch with all affected customers to explain their options.The airline currently bases a single Airbus A321neo at the Welsh gateway with up to 40 staff.“We continue to value our close working relationship with Cardiff Airport and plan to resume base operations at the airport next year… It takes time to build up sustainable operations at any base and we are prepared to build up operations at Cardiff over the long term.”
As a result of suspending base operations during the winter months, the operator says all Cardiff-based employees will be offered redeployment opportunities at other UK airports over the winter.Wizz Air plans to increase its operations from Cardiff next spring and has already launched its summer 2023 flight schedule from the Welsh facility.
Spencer Birns, Chief Executive Officer of Cardiff Airpot, said: "It is disappointing and frustrating for our customers whose travel plans are disrupted as a result of Wizz Air’s reduction of operations at Cardiff Airport over the winter, which we understand is due to economic factors.
"We always encourage airlines that fly from Cardiff to ensure that they look after their customers who are booked to travel in the event of disruption and understand that Wizz Air have put steps in place to do this for those passengers who have already booked to travel in the period of the pause.
"We have seen great demand for travel to and from Wales this year and our teams have been working really hard to ensure our customers have been able to take safe journeys through the Airport facilities with minimal disruption.
"We remain confident that the people living in Wales really want to make use of flight services that are cost effective and convenient. Our efforts to work with airlines to deploy more capacity on high demand routes will certainly continue.
"The announcement today of the two new routes to Italy and Romania commencing this autumn along with the summer 2023 schedule is welcome news. We look forward to Wizz Air increasing its operations to popular holiday destinations from Cardiff again next spring”.Julie James MS, Minister for Climate Change, said: "Whilst this is disappointing news for Cardiff Airport, the airline has stressed to the Airport Board that this is a temporary change to its operations at Cardiff Airport, which was launched in April this year, following a 12 month delay due to the pandemic, and that it remains committed to resuming its scheduled summer timetable from Cardiff Airport from April 2023.Despite this difficult commercial decision, I welcome the news that Wizz Air will continue to offer services from Cardiff over the winter season to Milan and Bucharest."
The Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Transport, Natasha Asghar MS, described the news as "incredibly disappointing" for the airport.
Ms Asghar continued: “Wales needs an airport that will attract airlines in order to boost the economy and show Wales off to the world.
“Labour ministers need to monitor the situation and provide urgent clarity as to when the services will resume and what alternative routes are being planned from other airlines.”