Valeria Bragarenco

In an exclusive interview with Travel And Tour World, Valeria Bragarenco, Corporate Communications Manager, Wizz Air discusses a broad range of topics from the post-COVID air travel revival, market consolidation in Europe and the Middle East to perspectives for the airlines’ future growth.

Travel And Tour World: As Europe’s fastest growing airline, what are your plans to revive air travel after two years of the pandemic?

Valeria Bragarenco: As a Europe’s fastest growing airline we nearly doubled our total passenger traffic year-over-year at 45.7 million vs. 21.7 million passengers in 2021, surpassing pre-pandemic numbers. The airline has always been committed to bringing even more exciting opportunities that can best meet the customers’ needs. To achieve this goal, Wizz Air is continuously searching and analyzing wide variety of destinations, adding new undiscovered routes and aircraft to already existing bases as well as opening new ones.


Travel And Tour World: Which countries/regions are your major strongholds? What are your plans to expand the route network?

Valeria Bragarenco: Wizz Air is historically strong in the Central-Eastern European region. However, the airline has strongholds in the UK as well as in Abu Dhabi. The airline has an order book of over 300 aircraft with Airbus and will grow its fleet from the currently 181 aircraft to 500 until 2030. To accommodate this unprecedented growth, Wizz Air is always interested in new markets. In general, developing new routes and markets is a combination of sustainable demand combined with reasonable local airport costs. Wizz is known for its low fares and any new market or airport interested in growing its passenger traffic with Wizz Air should provide an attractive low-cost base. We are in talks with several airports who are interested in having (more of) our very low fare services and we will do any announcements in due course.


Travel And Tour World: Is there any special service of Wizz Air to attract more passengers onboard?

Valeria Bragarenco: Wizz Air offers very low air fares paired with a great customer experience. The airline unbundled its products and services, which means that passengers only have to pay for what they need. Ancillary revenue is an important element of the ULCC business model. Over 50% of Wizz Air’s revenue is generated by ancillary products and services. Beside this, the airline offers exciting destinations outside of Europe to the less explored countries like Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and one of the most popular Islands in the world, Maldives.


Travel And Tour World: Tell us something about Wizz Air’s expansion of route network in the Middle East?

Valeria Bragarenco: Wizz Air currently flies to a total of 40 destinations in 27 different countries from Abu Dhabi, the airline is ready to accelerate and expand operations further in 2023, providing ultra-low-fares and unique experiences for travel lovers looking to explore. Wizz Air Abu Dhabi is now the second largest carrier in Abu Dhabi by seat capacity and operated more than 6,000 flights carrying more than 1.2 million adventurous travelers in 2022. The airline brought over 600,000 point-to-point passengers to the UAE in 2022, supporting the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi’s culture and tourism sectors, carrying the flag of ultra-low-fare travel in the region, and unlocking an eclectic mix of travel opportunities for travelers from all classes. Wizz Air Abu Dhabi provides ultra-low fare, hassle-free and efficient travel options to Alexandria (Egypt), Almaty (Kazakhstan), Amman (Jordan), Ankara (Turkiye), Antalya (Turkiye), Aqaba (Jordan), Athens (Greece), Baku (Azerbaijan), Belgrade (Serbia), Dammam (Saudi Arabia), Kuwait City (Kuwait), Kutaisi (Georgia), Manama (Bahrain), Male (Maldives), Medina (Saudi Arabia), Muscat (Oman), Nur Sultan (Kazakhstan), Salalah (Oman), Santorini (Greece), Samarkand (Uzbekistan), Sarajevo (Bosnia), Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Tel-Aviv (Israel), Tirana (Albania), Yerevan (Armenia), and  Larnaca (Cyprus).


Travel And Tour World: What are your sustainability targets for the coming years and how do you plan to reach your goal?

Valeria Bragarenco: We are continuously working on reducing our overall environmental footprint and ensuring that if choosing to fly with Wizz Air, our customers are making the most responsible choice of air travel available. When it comes to decarbonising aviation, Wizz Air is laser focused on the technology and innovation available here and now.

We are confident that by investing in the most modern aircraft and engines we will be able to continuously reduce passengers’ carbon footprint and deliver the targeted CO2 intensity decrease by 25% by 2030. As part of our ambitious fleet renewal plan, we have been continuously adding new Airbus A321neo to our fleet and replacing older aircraft. We currently operate one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets in the world, with an average age of only 4.6 years, well below the average age of our major competitors, which is around 10 years. We are also the biggest operator of the Airbus A321neo in Europe and have one of the largest standalone order book globally of over 300 state-of-the-art A321neo, proving our commitment to CO2 intensity reduction. The share of new “neo” technology aircraft within Wizz Air’s fleet is planned to surpass 50% by the end of March this year. On top of our fleet renewal plans, we are constantly working on fuel efficiency initiatives and improving the related data analytics. All of this helps us to operate with the lowest CO2 emissions per passenger/km among our major competitors. In 2022, Wizz Air achieved its lowest ever annual result of only 55.2 grams CO2 emitted per passenger/km. We also received a prestigious recognition by the CAPA in 2022, naming Wizz Air as the most environmentally sustainable airline not only in Europe but also globally. This is a testament to our commitment to driving the industry to a more sustainable future.

As part of our mid- and long-term sustainability strategy, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus to explore the potential for hydrogen-powered aircraft, as well as with OMV and Neste to supply sustainable aviation fuel and we currently have several other deals in the pipeline. These partnerships reinforce our commitment to driving emissions intensity down by the end of the decade.


Travel And Tour World: Recently, Wizz Air has signed an agreement with Neste for supply of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) from 2025. How, in your opinion such move will pave the way to a more sustainable future for aviation industry?

Valeria Bragarenco: We are focused on innovation and believe SAF is important for enabling the airline industry to meet net-zero emissions by 2050. We are committed to driving our emissions intensity down by further 25% by the end of the decade, with the use of SAF playing a significant role in that commitment.

Wizz Air has established its SAF strategy, which includes securing off take agreements with suppliers for the future. Our recent MoUs on SAF include:

  • OMV (up to 185,000 metric tons in 2023-2030)
  • Neste (up to 36,000 tons per annum from 2025)

On longer term, we are looking at several strategic options, which may or may not result in equity investment, but in principle we are willing to support production and research where we see the potential for achieving structural advantage in terms of cost and supply.

The demand for SAF will be driven by pricing, availability, and regulatory requirements. Production has only recently become viable with the support of governments and technological development; therefore the sector needs significant investment to scale up. In recognising those limitations Wizz Air is engaged with advocacy with governments and stakeholders to help create comprehensive policies and create a market for producers.


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