Wizz Air is examining the possibility of starting flights from the UK to Russia.
Speaking to FlightGlobal in London today, its chief executive Jozsef Varadi said the carrier could use the air operator’s certificate acquired for its Wizz Air UK subsidiary to serve Russian destinations.
He says Wizz Air UK is trying to secure status as a designated carrier on routes between the UK and Russia – a market restricted by bilateral arrangements governing which airlines can operate and what destinations they can serve.
Wizz Air UK should have a “strong enough background” to allow it to secure designated-carrier status, in Varadi’s view.
He declined to specify the Russian destinations Wizz would seek to serve, but says flights could start in “months or years”.
A maximum of two UK airlines are allowed to serve Russia. At present, British Airways is the only UK carrier doing so, operating flights from London Heathrow to Moscow and St Petersburg.
Cirium schedules data shows that Russian flag carrier Aeroflot also operates between Moscow Sheremetyevo and Heathrow. Aeroflot additionally flies from St Petersburg to London Gatwick. Pobeda serves London Stansted from the same Russian city.
EasyJet operated to Moscow until April 2016, surrendering its traffic rights a month later. Varadi suggests that Wizz Air UK could take over these rights.
As present, Wizz only operates to Russia only from Budapest, from which its Hungarian AOC and bilateral arrangements allow it to serve to Moscow and St Petersburg. Beyond this, Russia is a “closed” market for Wizz, says Varadi.
Should restricted markets like Russia and Turkey open up at a future date, Wizz will be on the “front line” to move into them, Varadi vows.