Wizz Air sees operations as its biggest challenge in 2018 as the Budapest-based LCC continues rapid growth.

“We have a lot of commercial opportunities, but the biggest challenge for us is on the operational side because in 17 weeks we are taking delivery of 17 new aircraft,” CCO George Michalopoulos told ATW in Vienna.

Wizz Air has increased its fleet size to 89, which includes a mix of Airbus A320s and A321s. On Feb. 1, the average aircraft age was 4.6 years.

In November 2017, Wizz Air signed its largest-ever Airbus order for an additional 146 A320neo family aircraft, which has received shareholder approval. The LCC has a total of 256 of the type on order.

Michalopoulos said the A321neo is the “ultimate, ultra-efficient aircraft” for an LCC. “We expect the first A321neo in January 2019.”

The A320/321 fleet has opened many opportunities for the Central and Eastern European carrier.

“In Western Europe there is a lot of industry consolidation going on, creating opportunities for us,” Michalopoulos said.

“We are talking to many airports to expand our network. We are the second-largest foreign carrier operating to Israel and we are the only [European] LCC to Dubai. There are no geographical limits for us.”

In addition to Europe, Wizz Air will fly to destinations in the East; the LCC recently launched its first service to Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

Wizz Air offers more than 600 routes from 28 bases, connecting 145 destinations across 44 countries.

The carrier operates its largest base in Budapest, Hungary, with 13 A320s/321s. “In Bucharest [Romania] we have 10 aircraft; in Warsaw [Poland] there are eight based aircraft,” he said.

Wizz Air said last week it will expand its new base in Vienna to five aircraft by 2019. It will base a first A320 there from June.

Kurt Hofmann hofmann.aviation@netway.at