Gee, Wizzair


Not content just to have the silliest corporate name and gaudiest livery in European civil aviation, Hungary’s WizzAir has just introduced a new twice-weekly route from Sibiu, a city in Transylvania, Romania, that neither you nor I have ever visited, or even heard of, to Dortmund in Germany, which isn’t exactly Berlin or Munich in terms of international familiarity or glamour. One gets the impression that the carrier’s Daniel Carvalho got a kick out of noting that the opening of the new route follows Significant Growth Announcements in Cluj-Napoca and Timisoara. ‘Tis the very rare airline executive who is able to litter his pronouncements with references to Cluj-Napoca.

Headquartered at Budapest’s Liszt Ferenc International Airport, where around 150 employees work in a 22,000-square-feet open plan office. Wizz went into business in the autumn of 2003, flying out of Katowica not even three weeks after Poland and Hungary entered the European Union. There are those who enjoy thinking of Wizz as Central/Eastern Europe’s answer to Ireland’s Ryanair, though its CEO and chairman, József Váradi, isn’t as flamboyantly obnoxious as Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary. Poland remains the carrier’s largest capital market in spite of its having stopped developing its network of connections from Poland, and begun concentrating instead on the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, and Serbia.

Like Ryanair and easyJet, WizzAir keeps costs down by flying into and out of small and secondary airports, such as Debrecan International, from which it began flying to London in the middle of 2012.

Because it takes its time — up to 30 days! — to process passenger complaint emails, and because it charges callers to its Customer Service department just slightly less than one euro per minute, the carrier has displeased a fair number of its passengers, one of whom bought the domain name to express his great displeasure. The site’s motto is Miserable Customer Service + Screwed Customers = WizzAir. Its avowed raison d’etre is to “[expose] the nightmare of flying ‘ the Wizzair way.’” One can purchase a T-shirt proclaiming, “Friends don’t let friends fly Wizzair.” The carrier’s detractors are also active on Facebook. The company responded by complaining to the World Intellectual Property Organization, which ultimately ruled against it.

Lsst April, as you certainly recall, Wizzair announced that it would start flights from Budapest Airport to Azerbaijan’s Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport, the most distant, and, in the view of many, most exotic, of its destinations.

The reader is cautioned to be healthily skeptical about reports that Air France and KLM are in “advanced talks” to buy Wizzair, or no “Thanks to its successes, Daniel de Carvalho said, “Wizzair is often approached by possible investors, [but]…is not in such talks at the moment,” this in spite of having abandoned plans to try to raise 200 million euros on the London stock market this past spring.

Why Daniel inserts “de” between his given name and surname for some pronouncements but not others is not known to this column, which would be agonized to think it lacked lots more important things to think about.

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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • tchase at 8:49pm August 05, 2014

    I just keep having a juvenile response to the name, “WizzAir.” Sorry. It’s a Beavis and Butthead moment.

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