Wizz Air will create 5,000 jobs if it lands extra slots at Gatwick

Wizz Air is pushing for more landing slots at Gatwick, insisting it would be able to create 5,000 jobs.

While rivals are shedding staff in the midst of the worst crisis in the history of aviation, the budget carrier says it is desperate to expand.

Chief executive Jozsef Varadi is pressing for more take-off and landing slots to be taken away from larger airlines if they are not able to use them due to the coronavirus crisis.

Take off: While rivals are shedding staff in the midst of the worst crisis in the history of aviation, budget carrier Wizz Air says it is desperate to expand

Take off: While rivals are shedding staff in the midst of the worst crisis in the history of aviation, budget carrier Wizz Air says it is desperate to expand

Take off: While rivals are shedding staff in the midst of the worst crisis in the history of aviation, budget carrier Wizz Air says it is desperate to expand

It has been flying routes in and out of Gatwick since 2016 and set up a base there last month, which allows it to keep just one plane at the airport.

Varadi said the airline is keen to expand this to 20 aircraft but that it is held back by rules around take-off and landing slots that have been suspended during the crisis.

Airport slots work on an 80/20 rule that means airlines have to be using them 80 per cent of the time or they will lose them – but these rules have been scrapped temporarily because of the disruption caused by the pandemic.

The European Commission, which sets the 80/20 rules, is due to reassess the suspension later this month.

Easyjet and British Airways, which are both shedding thousands of jobs, have the most landing slots at Gatwick. Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to leave the airport.

Varadi said: ‘We would be able to expand more in the UK, especially at Gatwick, but we are held back by the 80/20 rule at the moment. It is rigged in favour of the incumbent.

‘Now it’s down to the market to make the decision: operate the slots or give the opportunity to other carriers.’ But Wizz Air’s claims it stands ready to hire thousands of staff will be greeted with scepticism in some quarters.

Yesterday the Hungarian carrier also warned it may be forced to park some of its planes over the winter to preserve cash as demand has not picked up as quickly as expected. The airline operates a fleet of 130 Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft.

Wizz had hoped to be running at 80 per cent of 2019 levels by the end of this year.

It now thinks it is likely to be stuck at around 60 per cent because of restrictions such as quarantines that have led to fewer flight bookings than planned.

The airline’s shares fell 3.8 per cent, or 146p, to 3742p following the announcement.

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