Thursday, 28 January 2021

Why Wizz Air will be a structural winner from the coronavirus pandemic

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In December, nine months after Covid-19 swept around the world – plunging the air transport industry into its worst ever crisis – shares in European low-cost carrier Wizz Air reached an all-time high on the London Stock Exchange.

That the market shrugged off the grim outlook for airlines was no surprise: global indices have bounced back from their March lows as investors, flush with government stimulus, pile into risk assets and growth stock. Low-cost carriers are a compelling bet given their rapid expansion in recent years – fueled by insatiable passenger demand and the inferior cost structures of legacy rivals.

But Europe’s other budget airlines have not fared as well during the crisis. Shares in market leader Ryanair – more than three times the size of Wizz Air – fell short of their all-time-high by 14% during last month’s peak. Hybrid carrier EasyJet failed to come within even 50% of its highest-ever stock price.

For chief executive József Váradi, Wizz Air’s rising fortune in the midst of a global pandemic is recognition of the company’s obsessive focus on cost reduction, scalability and liquidity...