Wizz Air CEO brushes off ACI-Europe comments

Wizz Air has released a statement from CEO József Váradi in response to reports of comments from ACI-Europe regarding airport fees and of a call by European airlines to reduce these fees – which the carriers described as ‘monopolistic’ – in order to spur economic growth:

“The notion put forth by ACI-Europe that reductions in airport fees – whether regulated or voluntary – would not directly benefit our passengers is flawed in a number of ways,” Váradi begins. “First, an airline succeeds in the 21st century by managing its own operational costs in order to offer fares that are as low as possible for a given route. We can differentiate our airlines from one another in many ways and with other services where possible, but low fares are the primary driver for our success. We focus on controlling what we can inside the company so that we’re better able then to adjust to the market conditions which ultimately set fares.

“Second, airport authorities must think for the long term,” he suggests. “Lower airport fees support lower fares and that will drive route expansion and [the] propensity to travel. In turn, more people come through the airport and that benefits everyone – the airport authority, the airport vendors, the local hospitality industry and local businesses. At Wizz Air, lower costs drive increased opportunity and for us – it’s a basic economic principle.

“ACI-Europe earlier this year published the results of its own study showing a substantial link between airport expansion and local economic growth, primarily through job growth. In overall terms, every 1,000 passengers passing through an airport account for about one direct job in the community. Grow your airport traffic and grow jobs,” Váradi notes.

“Consider this quote from the ACI study: ‘Every year European airports and their associated aviation activity support almost 12.4 million jobs and contribute €675 billion towards Gross Domestic Product (GDP). That represents 4.1% of the European economy.’

“And we should consider not only direct airport jobs, but indirect jobs as well,” Váradi emphasises. “More visitors spend more money on hotels, restaurants, car rental, theatres, tourist attractions, and of course, this also benefits all the companies that supply them. Again quoting from the ACI-Europe report: ‘Wider economic growth supports connectivity growth, but equally connectivity growth supports wider economic growth. It’s a virtuous circle – both depend upon and reinforce each other.’

“And what is the primary vehicle that supports airport traffic growth? Airlines,” the Wizz Air CEO stressed.

“Wizz Air has succeeded as an airline through disciplined fiscal management that allows us to keep our fares low. There is no reason to doubt that lower costs for airlines will benefit passengers and it will benefit the cities to which we fly,” Váradi concluded.

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