Holiday warning: Britons face travel hell with flight prices to spike – Wizz Air CEO

Gatwick airport: Large queues following half-term getaway

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Airlines in the UK and across Europe have been struggling to keep up with demand as travel returns to normality after the COVID-19 pandemic, and prices have displayed “low single-digit” growth from April to May, chief executive József Váradi said. But with the industry facing a series of issues, Mr Váradi warned that that figure will go up into “high single figures”.

The news will be particularly galling for customers after EasyJet and Wizz Air cancelled hundreds of flights, disturbing thousands of passengers’ holidays.

British Airways has been the worst affected this week.

Wizz Air recently posted a reported net loss of $642.5million (546.5million) for this year but has plans to grow the capacity by more than 30 percent and 40 percent in the first two quarters of this financial year respectively.

Mr Varadi said: “The airline industry remains exposed to externalities such as air traffic control disruption and continuing operational issues within the airport sector, adding to a volatile macro environment.

“Rising energy costs and inflation across Europe will continue to favour ultra-low-cost carriers as consumers reconsider spending choices.

“We are partially hedged over the summer providing partial protection against fuel price surges and we continue to look at opportunities to extend these insurance coverages for the full fiscal year under the right conditions.”

Some passengers flying to see their families and friends have been told after going through security control that their flights have been cancelled.

Diego Garcia Rodriguez, 32, a Spanish national who lives in Brighton, said: “I have seen lots of people whose flights have been cancelled, some crying and stressing out and they only got the news after having gone through the security control so they didn’t know how to get out. There was no information and it was all very chaotic.”

Airlines, airports and ground handlers across many parts of Europe have struggled to hire enough staff this year after cutting tens and thousands of jobs during the pandemic.

Wizz Air has seen its shares fall 40 percent this year, with analysts pointing to its exposure to eastern Europe and Ukraine and a late decision to hedge against rising fuel prices.

Shares in Wizz Air were down more than 9 percent on Wednesday morning.

The airline has recruited more than 2,200 people over the past year and expects to have 6,700 staff by the end of the summer, up from around 4,000 people before the pandemic.

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Mr Váradi said that the company has “managed” the trading impact of the war in Ukraine and said he believes the virus is now endemic.

He added: “Rising energy costs and inflation across Europe will continue to favour ultra-low-cost carriers as consumers reconsider spending choices.

“We see strong consumer demand for summer, but expect an operating loss for the first quarter of F23.”

The number of Wizz Air passengers more than doubled from 10.2 million to 27.1 million in the year to the end of March.

Gatwick Airport is also being affected by flight cancellations, with journeys to Copenhagen, Dubrovnik and Nice among those affected. Bristol Airport is also facing axed trips.

Many flights involved Italian airports, which are bracing their crews to go on strike.

Meanwhile British Airways cancelled 120 flights to and from Heathrow and EasyJet grounded around 60 involving UK airports.

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